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Protect your skin as heatwave rocks Kuwait: Medical expert

Sun survival: Why sun protection matters more than ever

By Harichandana PD

KUWAIT: In recent times, Kuwait has been enduring scorching temperatures, thus recording one of the most intense heatwaves in its history. While the heat can be discomforting, it also poses significant risks to our skin health. Here is why sun protection is now more crucial than ever. Sun exposure, regardless of location, can wreak havoc on your skin. However, in Kuwait’s blistering heat, the need for protection is heightened.

“In Kuwait, the temperature is extremely high, which makes it necessary to protect your skin so that you can avoid the chances of skin burns, skin cancer, pigmentation, and aging,” explained Dr. Divya Rajaguru, a practicing dermatologist in Kuwait. “Sunblock should be used every four hours with a SPF of at least 50,” advises Dr Divya.

“Ultraviolet (UV) rays don’t discriminate; they can harm any skin type.” Selecting the appropriate sunscreen involves considering your skin type and the climate. For acne-prone skin, opt for non-comedogenic formulations (lotion or gel form) to prevent pore blockages. In Kuwait’s low-humidity climate, oil-based sunscreens provide essential moisture for dry skin. For people who go to the workplace, they can use foundation like sunscreen, which has a pinkish/peach tint to it, which helps to avoid the white cast. There is also invisible sunscreen that blends with your skin to ensure it doesn’t look odd,” she suggested.

In addition to sunscreen, adopting other protective measures is crucial. Wear lightweight, breathable clothing that covers your skin adequately. Wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses shield vulnerable areas like the face and eyes. “Thin layers also work. Don’t forget your sunglasses! It helps to protect your eyes from UV rays since sunlight is one of the causes of cataracts,” Dr. Divya noted.

Dr Divya Rajaguru
Dr Divya Rajaguru

During severe heatwaves, it is essential to take additional precautions. Boost your body’s resilience by consuming antioxidant-rich foods such as papaya and carrots. Stay hydrated with plenty of fluids, and prioritize protein-rich foods like fish to support skin repair and regeneration. “You can improve your nutritional value. Kids are recommended to take vitamin-rich foods like papaya and carrots and protein-rich foods like fish,” she advised.

Frequent sun exposure can also lead to various skin and other issues, including premature graying of the hair, the formation of rashes, and redness in the face (which are quite common among women in Kuwait). Preventative measures such as regular sunscreen application, protective clothing, and seeking shade can mitigate these risks. “Pityriasis alba, i.e., the forming of pale, white patches on the face, is quite common among children. Some young adults experience early wrinkles, usually occurring between 25 and 30 years of age, but here, people are experiencing them from the age of 18 due to the damage created by sunlight,” Dr. Divya explained.

In extreme heat, individuals are susceptible to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Symptoms include dehydration, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. If you are experiencing these signs, seek immediate medical attention and move to a cooler environment. There are several home remedies that can be practiced in case of a sudden burn or irritation. In the event of a sunburn, soothe the skin with cool compresses or ice packs. Avoid further irritation by using a gentle moisturizer. Over-the-counter pain relievers and topical treatments like calamine lotion can provide relief.

Common misconceptions about sun protection abound, such as the belief that sunscreen is unnecessary on cloudy days. However, UV rays penetrate clouds, necessitating year-round protection. “Just because it’s cloudy doesn’t mean you don’t have to apply sunscreen because UV rays are still present. When you apply sunscreen, you should apply a generous amount every day after every 4 hours, irrespective of whether it is morning or afternoon, sunny or rainy,” she clarified.

Additionally, Dr. Divya added, “Take vitamin D tablets in case you suffer from vitamin D deficiency. People often perceive sunscreens as chemicals and use them only for short periods, which can actually lead to more damage. Skipping sunscreen can result in severe sunburns. While some sunscreens contain chemicals, they’re generally safe for adults. For children, sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium oxide are safer as they simply reflect sunlight.”

As Kuwait battles with scorching temperatures, prioritizing sun protection is paramount. By embracing comprehensive measures, from sunscreen application to dietary adjustments, individuals can safeguard their skin health and mitigate the adverse effects of extreme heat. Remember, protecting your skin is not just a cosmetic concern - it’s essential for your overall well-being.

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