Health and Wellness

ID #1278

Sunburn in Southern Africa.

The intensity of solar radiation is high in Southern Africa because:

o Much of the subcontinent is relatively close to the equator,
o The earth travels in an elliptical orbit around the sun and is closest during our summer months,
o Much of the subcontinent is at high altitude, where protection from ultra-violet radiation by ozone in the atmosphere is reduced. and
o Skies are cloudless and clear most of the time, particularly during winter months

As a result, the risk of sunburn in Southern Africa is probably the highest in the world. Fair-skinned visitors from less-sunny climates, anxious to take advantage of the sunshine, are sometimes unaware of the risk and are occasionally badly burnt as a result. Some suffer from sunstroke and need medical attention or land up in hospital.

There are several common-sense ways to avoid this risk:

o Wear at hat whenever possible. Particularly relevant for those who are a little thin on top!
o Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers
o Make liberal use of sunblock, etc.

However, it is sometimes difficult to provide protection for exposed areas such as ones face and hands, particularly when driving long distances during the day or when out at sea.

Imported aloe vera as well as locally-made gel products (aloe ferox) provide relief from sunburn as well as insect bites, burns, etc. It is recommended that fair-skinned visitors purchase such products on arrival for routine use as well as in case of emergency. Available from most pharmacies. Alan McIver ATSun

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Last update: 2014-03-09 15:22
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.3

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