From Sunscreen to Contraception: 3 Essential Summertime Precautions for Your Health

Summer’s long, sunshine-filled days are often filled with outdoor adventures and lazy days by the pool. Vacation days are put to use in the summertime and kids are home from school. Unfortunately, amidst the disruption in your routine, it can be easy to neglect your health.  

Just as it presents its unique joys, the season also comes with unique health hazards. Long days spent by the pool or working in the yard can also lead to dehydration or heat exhaustion. Look out for your health this summer so that you can fully enjoy the season by following these suggestions.    

1. Prioritize Your Reproductive Health

Summer can be a time for spontaneous travel and late nights out with friends. But embracing the season’s whimsy shouldn’t come at the cost of your reproductive health. It’s important to continue taking your birth control regularly even if your calendar is more chaotic. Too busy to go to an in-person doctor’s appointment just to get your prescription refilled? There are reliable methods to get your birth control online and have the medication delivered to your doorstep.

Planning an extensive summer trip? Be sure that you have enough of your preferred birth control method to last the entirety of your vacation. You might need to get an additional refill before you leave — especially for any foreign travel. It’s also vital to continue taking your birth control pills at the same time every day. Will you be changing time zones for your upcoming trip? Be sure to take the medication at the same time as your home time zone. It can be helpful to set an alarm or update your existing alarm to your new time zone.

Make sure that you have the medication on hand when you’re flying too. It’s a good idea to keep your birth control and any other medications in your carry-on. That way, you won’t be at risk of losing your pills if your luggage gets lost. It’s also easier to regulate the temperature that your pills are stored if they’re in your purse or carry-on. Extreme temperature changes can make the medication less effective. Try to store your pills at the ideal temperature range listed on the packaging.

2. Care For Your Skin

You’re likely to be spending more time outside in the summer months. But longer days also mean more sun exposure. While sunshine’s vitamin D is necessary for your well-being, it can be easy to overdo it in the summer. And too much sun exposure can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer and premature aging. That’s why it’s so important to use sunscreen.  

The most effective sunscreens will be labeled as “broad spectrum,” meaning they block both UVA and UVB rays. Dermatologists recommend selecting an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. But how much sunscreen should you use? Aim to apply an ounce of sunscreen to your body and around two fingers’ worth of sunscreen to your face. Reapply your sunscreen every two hours — but if you’re swimming or sweating you might need to apply more often.

Taking care of your skin in the summer can sometimes feel like a balancing act. The increase in temperature and humidity can take a toll on your skin. If you find that you tend to get more acne during the summer, make sure you’re selecting non-comedogenic sunscreens and moisturizers. It’s also wise to cut back on using retinol products since they make it more likely for your skin to burn.

But you shouldn’t rely solely on sunscreen to protect you from the sun’s rays. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat when you’re outside can protect your face from harmful rays. You might also consider seeking out shaded areas to limit your sun exposure. And during the hottest part of the day, it might even be worth it to avoid going outside altogether.

3. Stay Hydrated

Don’t skimp on your hydration in the summer months. Your body weight is roughly 50-70% water, so staying hydrated in sweaty summer months is particularly important. But proper hydration isn’t always straightforward, and not all beverages will be helpful for your health. Plus, drinking water only when you feel thirsty might not be the best plan of action in the summer. Your thirst cues can be delayed in the hotter months when you’re sweating more and your hydration levels are in flux.

So what should you drink for optimal hydration? Water is always going to be the best choice for your health. But other beverages will still count toward your hydration levels. If plain water feels lackluster, try adding some fresh fruit slices to add more flavor. You can also opt for a sparkling water beverage. Even your morning coffee counts toward your overall water consumption.

Alcohol, on the other hand, is going to have a negative effect on your body’s hydration since it’s a diuretic. That’s why it’s particularly important to keep your alcohol consumption lower in the summer months. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to water intake. Your needs are specific to you, and will likely vary day by day based on your activity level, climate, and humidity levels. Drinking enough water is also crucial when it comes to preventing heat exhaustion.  

Don’t get too lost in the allure of summer that you forget to take care of your health. Be sure to plan appropriately for your vacations so you don’t run out of important medications. And slather on the sunscreen — your skin will thank you later. Stay on top of your hydration so you can fully enjoy summer’s long days without fear of heat exhaustion. Your health and well-being are your greatest assets and prioritizing them on vacation will only amplify your relaxation.