With the hot weather shining down across Europe we are all suddenly rushing to get a bit of that sizzling summer tan on our pasty pale bodies – however bare in mind that its best to take a cautious approach and look after yourself – here are a few Q&A’s about Sun burn, what causes it and how to deal with it;
WHAT IS SUNBURN?
The sun produces two main types of light, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB), and they differ in the way they penetrate the skin. UVB is the one that will cause you to turn red.
The UVB radiation has two main effects. In the short-term, it triggers a reaction in the skin that causes chemicals to be released that result in redness and inflammation. And in the long-term, it damages the DNA in the skin.
WHY IS SUNBURN SOMETIMES DELAYED?
You hardly ever see sunburn straight away. If you see redness on the skin immediately, you're probably seeing a burn that's caused by the intense heat of the sun, rather than the ultraviolet, in exactly the same way that standing by a roaring fire turns skin red.
It's an indication that you may be on the way to getting sunburn, but the sunburn itself may not show for eight hours. experts aren't sure why, but the theory is it takes that amount of time for the genes that control the mechanism to trigger the release of the chemicals.
CAN I TAKE ACTION TO MINIMISE DAMAGE?
Yes. If you've just come out of the sun and think you may have overdone it, you can take aspirin or ibuprofen, as these are drugs that block the formation of the chemicals that cause redness and swelling.
FIRST LINE OF ATTACK TO TREAT SUNBURN?
Obviously, you should get out of the sun straight away and stay out of it. If a baby or a child is sunburnt, or you've got blisters or a fever, you should seek medical advice from your GP or NHS Direct. Otherwise, from a medical perspective, the most important thing you can do is intensively moisturise your skin using a product that won't irritate the skin further.
WHICH IS BETTER, A HOT SHOWER OR COLD BATH?
Some people swear by a hot shower for taking the sting out of sunburn, but part of the reason why your skin is hot is because you've got increased blood supply to the surface of the skin, and a hot
WHAT ARE THE BEST PRODUCTS?
Calamine lotion will help to cool skin while, when it comes to moisturising, look for products containing ingredients like aloe vera and vitamin e, which quickly deliver a lot of moisture to skin.
WILL ANTIHISTAMINE CREAM OR PILLS HELP?
No. An antihistamine won't work because the reaction you're seeing on the skin isn't a histamine reaction. It may look similar - red, swelling - but as the cause is not related, an antihistamine won't help.
WHEN DOES SUNBURN PEAK?
Sunburn pain can be at its most intense around 12 hours after exposure, but may continue to develop for 24 hours. And the bad news is, once you've actually developed the symptoms of sunburn, painkillers won't work. For a painkiller like ibuprofen to work, it needs to reach the area that is inflamed. If you've damaged the skin's cells, you've damaged the delivery system, so it's doubtful that you'll get anything more than a placebo-effect relief from it. If the pain is so bad that you need to take painkillers, you should probably see a medical professional.
CAN HOME REMEDIES SUCH AS VINEGAR HELP?
Home remedies are based on cooling the skin down, or moisturising it in some way. The only time you might want to use vinegar is if you've got blisters - a capful of vinegar and cool water can help dry out blisters. Otherwise, using vinegar really isn't recommended as it's mildly acidic and will have a slight astringent effect, drying out skin that is already desperately in need of moisture.
IS PRICKLY HEAT RELATED TO SUNBURN?
Prickly heat is a condition that affects 14 per cent of the population and is an abnormal immunological response to the UVA type of light. The best way to avoid it is to gradually work up to exposing your skin to the sun rather than suddenly blasting it with sunlight.
CAN YOU STOP PEELING?
No. If the skin is going to peel, it's going to peel because it's been destroyed. Be very careful when you are peeling because the skin underneath will be very tender and will need to be kept well protected from the sun and well moisturised.
ARE SOME PEOPLE MORE PRONE TO SUNBURN THAN OTHERS?
People with fair skin or those who haven't had much sun exposure are more likely to burn quickly as they tend to have low levels of melanin, the component of skin that gives us natural protection against burning. Redheads are particularly susceptible as their skin contains a different type of melanin which is much less efficient.
Sunburn can be repaired in a relatively short space of time. However, it is an indicator of invisible, long-term damage. If you have been sunburnt, you have damaged the DNA in the skin, and it is this damage that it is thought goes on to create problems such as skin cancer.
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South Africa is a large, diverse and incredibly beautiful country. The size of France and Spain combined, and roughly twice the size of Texas, it varies from the picturesque Garden Route towns of the Western Cape to the raw subtropical coast of northern KwaZulu-Natal, with the vast Karoo semi-desert across its heart and one of Africa's premier safari destinations, Kruger National Park, in the northeast. It's also one of the great cultural meeting points of the African continent, a fact obscured by years of enforced racial segregation, but now manifest in the big cities.
Many visitors are pleasantly surprised by South Africa's excellent infrastructure, which draws favourable comparison with countries such as Australia or the United States. Good air links and bus networks, excellent roads and a growing number Villa rentals and guesthouses make South Africa a perfect touring country.
Here are a few facts:
Covering 1,219,090 square kilometres, South Africa has a population of 44 million and eleven official languages: Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Pedi, English, Ndebele, Sotho, Setswana, siSwati, Venda and Tsonga. The country's religions comprise Christianity (68 percent), Islam (2 percent), Hinduism (1.5 percent) and indigenous beliefs (28.5 percent).
South Africa is a multipartydemocracy, the head of state being President Thabo Mbeki. Parliament sits in Cape Town, the legislative capital, while Pretoria is the executive capital, from where the President and his cabinet run the country. The judicial capital is Bloemfontein, where the Supreme Court of Appeal sits, though the Constitutional Court is in Johannesburg. Each of the nine provinces has its own government.
South Africa has the most advanced economy in Africa, with well-developed mining, manufacturing, agricultural and financial sectors. The country also has one of the greatest disparities of wealth in the world.
Lesotho covers 30,355 square kilometres and has a population of 2 million. It is a constitutional monarchy, with King Letsie III as its head. The official languages are Sesotho and English.
The kingdom of Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, has an area of 17,363 square kilometres and a population of 1 million. The official languages are siSwati and English.
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NEW technology that could minimise future disruption to planes from volcanic ash was unveiled today by budget airline easyJet. The carrier will be the first airline to trial a new "weather radar for ash" system called AVOID (Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier and Detector).
The system involves placing infrared technology on to an aircraft to supply images to both the pilots and an airline's flight control centre.
These images will enable pilots to see an ash cloud up to 62 miles (100 kilometres) ahead of the aircraft and at altitudes between 5,000ft and 50,000ft.
This will allow pilots to make adjustments to the plane's flight path to avoid any ash cloud.
Millions of passengers had their travel plans wrecked when airlines had to scrap thousands of flights in recent weeks due to Icelandic volcanic ash.