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Prevention is the key with regards to sunburn, sun poisoning, heat exhaustion, heat stroke or other sun-related health matters. For golfers, it’s important to wear looser, breathable clothing. Some of the newer ventilated fabrics for shirts and shorts are much better in this regard compared to the old sticky cotton stuff.
Broad-brim hats will keep the sun from doing further damage to ears, face and neck because of full partial shading.
The most important prevention of all is to apply sunscreen generously and often. WebMD online recommends applying sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside, and reapplying every two hours, because sunscreen washes off with sweat and none are really waterproof. You should opt for sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and make sure it’s labeled “broad spectrum” which means it blocks both UVA and UVB sunlight.
Dermatologists advise us that when applying sunscreen we should cover our face, ears, nose, neck, arms, back of hands and legs. Don’t skimp or do a haphazard job; you’ll pay the price later.
If you suspect sun poisoning, you should immediately get out of the sun. As soon as possible, take a cool (not cold) shower and/or apply cool compresses. Aloe gel is recommended treatment for sunburned areas, and if pain is substantial over-the-counter pain relievers are often suitable.
Stay out of the sun until the condition resolves, and completely cover sunburned areas when going outside. You should seek immediate medical care in cases where the sunburn forms major blisters or covers a large area and is very painful. Also, if you have facial swelling, high fever and chills, severe headache, confusion or faintness, you should go to the doctor or ER.
Doctors who treat sunstroke and heat-related illnesses note that, when recognized in the early stages, less severe conditions, such as mild heat exhaustion, can be treated at home.
The first thing is to stop the vigorous activity, get out of the heat and rest. Get into a cooler environment like shade or an air-conditioned space, and elevate your feet while removing as much clothing as practical.
Immediately drink water or rehydration drinks to replace fluids. For persons with greater heat illness symptoms, WebMD urges companions to get the person out of the sun and heat, and to help remove as much clothing as possible thereby exposing affected skin surface to cooler air. First aid involves cooling the person’s entire body by sponging or spraying cool water and fanning the air around them to lower the body temperature. Ice packs can be applied to the groin, neck and armpits where large blood vessels lie close to the skin surface. Immersion in an ice bath is not recommended. If the symptoms are beyond the simple home treatments, the individual needs to go to the ER.
For golfers who usually ride in carts, there are portable misters and portable fans available, both in a variety of sizes from Amazon.com.
Many of the destination golf resorts in arid Arizona have water misters automatically spraying out of their carts to keep their guests safe and comfortable. A moist coolish towel around your neck is another option.
When we indulge in outdoor endeavors, like golf, hiking or even yard work, the only sure way to beat the heat is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And not with beer. Drink water, while replacing electrolytes with legitimate sports drinks. Sports physicians tell us to drink at least a quart every hour when the temp is over 70 degrees. Many golf facilities have course ambassadors with coolers or bottled water; many have water coolers or fountains every few holes. To be assured of cool, clean, plentiful water when you want it, bring along a full gallon insulated water jug. Excess alcohol consumption on the golf course on really hot days will only increase one’s risk of heat prostration. Remember, don’t drink and drive – don’t even putt.
Dr. Charlie Blanchard is a licensed sports psychologist specializing in sports and leadership. Contact him at email@example.com.