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Heat Related Illnesses and Skin Health

Dr. Margot Favret


Summer is now here, Conroe, and with that comes the heat! With all that entails, it’s important to understand heat-related illnesses so you can stay safe.

Types of Heat-Related Illnesses:

  1. Heat Cramps: cramps or muscle spasms, usually during or after exercise in the heat. This happens when your body is dehydrated, and you lose electrolytes.

    What to do: hydrate all day and remember to eat a balanced diet. Sports drinks with electrolytes will also help.

  2. Heat Exhaustion: increased sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, heat cramps that don’t go away. You might even pass out. Your temperature might go up as well but shouldn’t be above 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

    What to do: Get to an air-conditioned or shaded area, lay down and place their legs above their head, and cool down with ice and cold water. If they do not get better after cooling, or they become unresponsive, call 911 immediately.

  3. Heat Stroke: confusion, dry skin, becoming unresponsive, or seizures. Your temperature will be above 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

    What to do: This is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY! Call 911 right away. While you wait- get to an air-conditioned or shaded area and cool down FAST with ice and cold water. An ice bath is best.

How much water should you be drinking in the heat?

While outside, you should be drinking 1 cup of water every 15-20 minutes. That’s 1 quart an hour!

Skin Health

It’s also important to understand sunburns and how to prevent them during the Summer. Wearing sunscreen and covering your skin outside will prevent skin aging and skin cancer.

Degrees of Sunburn

  1. First-Degree Sunburn: Most common and mildest form. This causes redness and tenderness on the skin. It typically appears a few hours after sun exposure and can be treated with cool compresses, moisturizers, and over-the-counter pain relievers.

  2. Second-Degree Sunburn: This causes blistering, swelling, and significant pain. If you do get blisters, it's important not to pop them, as this can increase the risk of infection. You might need to come into the clinic for these.

  3. Third-Degree Sunburn: These are the most severe sunburns, as they spread through all the layers of the skin. These cause intense pain, swelling, and even chills or fever. You need to go to the emergency room for this sunburn.

How to Properly Use Sunscreen:

  1. Use the Right SPF: You want to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30. This protects against both UVA and UVB rays, which can cause skin aging and cancer.

  2. Apply before going outside: 15-30 minutes before. Make sure to use it on all areas not covered by clothing, especially your face and neck.

  3. Reapply every 2 hours: Or after swimming and sweating, as the sunscreen can wear off.

Special Populations

  • Sunscreen is important for all skin types and colors, but if you have pale skin, you are at increased risk of skin cancer. Wear hats and lightweight clothing that cover your arms and legs.

  • Keep infants under 6 months old out of direct sunlight as they are more sensitive to heat and the sun. Sunscreen is okay to use on children older than 6 months.

Dr. Favret is a resident physician who sees patients of all ages and provides obstetrical services at Lone Star Family Health Center, a non-profit 501©3 Federally Qualified Health Center operating facilities in Conroe, Spring, Willis, Grangerland, and Huntsville, and serving as home to a fully integrated Family Medicine Residency Program to increase the number of Family Medicine physicians for Texas and our community.