With summer in full swing, you’ve probably begun to hit the beaches and weekend junks in an effort to acquire that long-awaited tan. If you’re planning to spend an extended amount of time under the sun, however, it’s extremely important that you take measures to protect your skin! First, follow these precautions prior to your sunbathing session:
1. Apply sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 to 30 on your face and skin 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. If you’re using tanning oil, it’s best to apply this around dusk when the sun is less strong. UV rays can severely damage your skin if you don’t use SPF!
2. Continuously hydrate your body during sunbathing to avoid heat stroke.
3. Sunbathe in moderation – slow and steady tanning is the key to that perfect bronze!
4. Avoid the 12 noon to 2pm window – not only will you burn much easier, you’re also much more susceptible to heat stroke during this period.
After a sweaty sunbathing session, have you ever noticed that your skin feels extra dry and hot afterwards? If redness and hot skin is accompanied by swelling and pain, then you’re experiencing the first signs of sunburn. At this point, try to avoid applying after-sun lotions composed of complex ingredients – the simpler the ingredients, the more effective the lotion.
Aloe vera gel is highly effective for soothing sunburn. It is cold in nature and when applied topically, helps to release heat from the skin and promote healing. If you have fresh aloe leaves, you may slice them up and apply the clear gel to your skin directly. There are also after-sun aloe vera gels available on the market – just make sure they contain solely aloe vera.
Watermelon and cucumbers are great snacks for a hot, outdoor day. Watermelons are cold in nature and are effective for relieving summer-heat and irritability, while their high water content is also great for replenishing fluids. Watermelon skin is cool in nature and when left out to dry, is used as Chinese medicine to avoid heat stroke. Consider eating the fruit during sunbathing and using the leftover skin to rub on your body afterwards as an effective way to release heat from the body.
Cucumbers are also cool in nature, and are helpful for clearing heat, promoting diuresis, releasing toxins, reducing swelling, encouraging production of fluids and quenching thirst. Snack on cucumbers during sunbathing, and slice them up to apply to your face or sunburned skin afterwards – their high water content helps the skin release heat and toxins.
Heal from within
In addition to topical remedies, here is a simple tea remedy that is also helpful for soothing dry, hot skin after sunbathing. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that the skin is closely connected to the lung and the spleen (note that this refers to the spleen in Chinese medicine, which is different from the spleen in Western medicine). Strengthening the lungs and spleen helps promote blood flow and hence nourishes the skin.
Lily Bulb, Ophiopogon, and Pseudostellaria Root Tea
9g lily bulbs (clears heart-fire and calms the mind)
9g ophiopogon (nourishes yin, moisturises the lungs and promotes fluid production)
12g pseudostellaria root (invigorates qi, strengthens the spleen, promotes fluid production and moisturises the lungs)
Cut pseudostellaria root into small pieces and rinse all ingredients. Place ingredients into a thermos and add hot water to steep for 30 minutes. This tea can be re-brewed three to four times until flavour weakens and may be taken two to three times a week.
Since most of us have probably never experienced heat stroke, here is a brief introduction so that we can be a little more prepared. According to traditional Chinese medicine, heat stroke arises due to our body’s lack of reserves and inability to cope with changes in outside temperature. Symptoms include headache, a feeling of heat within the body, excessive sweating, irritability, thirst and tightness in the chest. To put it simply, when you suddenly feel unwell, see a flash of black or a halo of light around objects in front of you, have a sudden urge to go to the toilet, or feel nauseous, it may be an early sign of heat stroke. At this point, you should rest in a shaded or indoor area away from the sun – these are all warning signs from your body!
It is helpful to bring thirst-quenching drinks such as sugar cane and cogongrass root tea along with you to avoid heat stroke. Here is another simple Chinese tea remedy that is helpful for clearing summer heat, expelling dampness, releasing toxins and preventing heat stroke:
White Gourd, Mung Bean, and Coix Seed Tea
40g mung beans (clears heat, releases toxins and relieves summer-heat)
20g coix seed (promotes diuresis and strengthens the spleen)
1 catty white gourd (clears heat, induces diuresis, promotes fluid production and relieves restlessness)
Soak and rinse all ingredients, and cut up white gourd into small pieces (leave seeds and skin). Place all ingredients into 2500ml of water and bring to a boil, then switch to medium heat and cook for 40 minutes until the mung beans start to come apart. Add crystal sugar to taste. Watch the water level – if it becomes too low, add more water to the pot. This tea can be taken anytime during the day, and two to three times a week.
Note: Menstruating women and those with a weak spleen and stomach should avoid drinking this tea.
A few last handy tips
Enjoy yourself this summer with these few extra tips that will help prevent heat stroke:
1. Wear a well-ventilated straw hat under the sun and ensure that you are taking in enough fluids.
2. Choose to eat lighter foods over greasy or rich foods.
3. Avoid strenuous activity in hot temperatures or when hungry.
4. If you experience dizziness, nausea and other heat stroke symptoms while working under the sun, seek a shaded area immediately and take rest while drinking a cool beverage.