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Your 2019 holiday health guide

Going on holiday can be hazardous to your health with sunburn, tummy troubles and insect bites. Our experts give you their top tips to having a fabulous problem-free break this summer

Skin protection

“It’s important to look after your skin in the sun as it not only dries out your skin it also can lead to sunburn,” says Dorothy Browne, manager of Nice and Natural in Cootehill, Co Cavan. “Health stores carry a selection of natural chemical-free sun creams. Staying hydrated and moisturising the skin daily is very important. Aloe vera gel works well for sunburn.”

“When it comes to sun protection there are many effective natural products on the market,” says Gerald Colfer, owner of health store Only Natural in Wexford. “Try taking an asthaxanthin supplement for even more protection from the sun’s dehydrating effects on skin and to stave off its skin ageing potential. Lavender oil makes a great DIY after sun. Just pop a drop or two into a little aloe vera body cream to apply liberally in the evening.”

Health stores sell a whole range of sun products such as sun sprays and creams with sun protection factors (SPF) of up to 30, lip balms, anti-age sun creams, after-sun milks and gels and self tanning lotions. Sun creams and sprays contain ingredients such as organic carotene and sunflower oil, calendula extract, evening primrose oil, flower extracts and essential oils.

While conventional sun products contain chemicals that can be absorbed through your skin into your body most natural sun products use zinc oxide as a physical barrier against UV rays. Zinc is also anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory so it is good for sensitive skin.

Repel those insects

“To keep the mosquitoes at bay take a high strength garlic supplement or 500mg per day of vitamin B2 for at least two weeks before you go,” says Gerald Colfer. “Both are reputed to leave a scent on the skin which repels insects, but people can’t smell it. Natural insect repellents tend to be based on the herb neem or on citronella oil and can be very effective. Should you be unlucky enough to get bitten apply a drop of neat lavender oil as soon as possible. It takes away the sting and stops the possibility of infection.”

When buying products such as shampoos, body lotions and cosmetics choose unperfumed versions, as anything with a smell will attract insects.

Soothe that tummy

“Taking a good probiotic is by far the best way to avoid traveller’s tummy and all the discomfort that goes with it,” says Gerald Colfer. “Maximise its benefits by starting a week before departure.”

Ginger is a good remedy for travel sickness and nausea. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid drinks which can dehydrate such as coffee, tea and alcohol. Coconut water is full of natural electrolytes and can prevent and treat dehydration.

Your first aid kit

  • Arnica cream – for sprains
  • Urtical – good for heat rashes
  • Aloe vera – for burns and insect bites
  • Tea tree oil – good for cuts or to gargle for a sore throat
  • Lavender – good for sunburn when mixed with a natural after sun
  • Propolis – good for cuts and as an antibiotic or antifungal
  • Flower remedies – for the nervous traveller

“My first aid travel kit always includes a good probiotic that keeps my digestive system ready for any changes in my diet,” says Dorothy Browne. “I bring some silicea gel in sachets for any stomach upsets, a good lip balm with sun factor and rehydration sachets. I am prone to picking up colds from flying so I usually boost my immune system with vitamins B and C for a few weeks before travelling. I also bring blister plasters, echinacea tablets and echinacea cream in case of bites or cuts.”

DIY Insect repellent

  • ½ cup witch hazel
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 40 drops essential oils (eucalyptus, lemongrass, citronella, tea tree or rosemary)
  • one spray bottle

Mix witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and essential oils in a glass spray bottle. Spray over all portions of the body but avoid repellent in eyes and mouth.

Dorothy Browne, manager of Nice and Natural in Cootehill, Co Cavan

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