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How to look after your skin on holiday

Whether you’re travelling for work, going on a family holiday or visiting friends or family interstate or overseas, there’s a lot of planning and preparation that happens before your departure.

In between deciding which clothes to pack, getting your prescriptions and medications in order and planning what you’ll be doing at your destination, it’s important to look after your skin.

In fact, research has shown that skin disorders are the third most frequent health problem reported to doctors by returning travellers, after diarrhoea and fever.

Different destinations may require slightly different approaches to skincare, but there are a few things that you can do to help protect and maintain the health of your skin.

Stick to your regular routine

Whether you have a multi-step skin care regime or stick to a simple face wash and moisturiser, it can be helpful to stay as close to your usual routine as possible. You may feel tempted to sample new products or switch your routine to help prepare for your holiday, but if your current skincare is working for you then there’s no reason to change it.

In fact, travelling often comes with skin symptoms like irritation, rashes or breakouts as our skin is exposed to new environments, climates and types of bacteria. Whether it’s the washing detergent used by the hotel you’re staying at or the minerals in the local water, these kinds of factors can impact your skin. Maintaining your usual routine can help to minimize this and prevent reactions to the ingredients in new skincare products.

Look for travel-sized versions of your favourite products, or purchase travel bottles into which you can decant from your full-sized products. For international travel remember the 100ml limit for liquids or gels..

Don’t forget sun protection

Australia may have the highest level of skin cancer in the world, but that doesn’t mean that you can be relaxed about sun protection while you’re travelling overseas.

Travelling by plane actually exposes you to higher UV levels than you might expect. Not only are you closer to the sun, causing the rays to be more intense, but you’re not in control of the windows of other passengers, meaning that even if you close your own, you may still be exposed. While aeroplane windows generally filter out UV-B rays, they don’t protect against UV-A rays, which are also harmful to the skin. In fact, one study found that pilots flying for 56 minutes at 30,000 feet receive the same amount of UV-A exposure as they would in a 20-minute tanning bed session.

The same goes for long road trips where your skin is exposed to the sun for hours on end. If you’re driving, it’s especially important to protect the skin on your hands as holding the steering wheel means they’re particularly vulnerable to the suns rays.

Practice your usual sun safety by applying plenty of sunscreen on your face and any exposed areas before you board your flight or get into the car, and reapply every few hours.

It’s just as important to be sun safe once you arrive at your destination. Whether it’s the ski slopes or the beach, remember to apply sunscreen, wear sunglasses and a hat, and wear protective clothing where possible.

Avoid bites and stings

In one study, arthropods, especially insects, were found to have caused nearly a quarter of all skin-related conditions among returning travellers. While you can’t prevent bites and stings altogether, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself:

● Check food and drink containers before you eat or drink from them, as some insects are attracted to food and drink

● Wear shoes outside to protect your feet

● Cover your skin where possible

● Stay out of long grass or wear long pants in bushy areas

Make sure you pack some tropical-strength water-resistant insect repellant and consider packing a few extras like antihistamines to reduce itching, hydrocortisone cream to reduce redness and inflammation, and anaesthetic cream to relieve pain.

Speak to your local Capital Chemist pharmacist for more information, or check out our guide on bites and stings.

Get a check-up before you leave

Making sure that you and your family are in good health before you go can go a long way to preventing health issues during your travels, and that includes skin conditions.

Bacterial infections are one of the most common skin complaints in returning travellers. While it’s near impossible to eliminate the risk of bacterial infections completely, there are a few factors that can put you at greater risk. These include existing illness, compromised immune health, liver and kidney disease, and problems with blood flow. Existing wounds can also increase the risk of infection.

It’s certainly worth visiting your GP and getting a clean bill of health before you depart on your holiday. While it may feel like a hassle at the time, it could save you from trouble later on.

Practice good hygiene

Between flying on a plane full of people, using public transport or simply being in a new environment, travelling exposes us to lots of germs and bacteria.

Practising good hygiene can help to protect you and your skin. This is especially important before eating or touching your face.

Remember to:

● Wipe down areas like food court tables or plane tray tables with an anti-bacterial wipe before eating

● Wash your hands or use an anti-bacterial hand gel before eating, touching your face or applying skincare products, and after using the toilet.

● Remember to clean under your nails

● Don’t share towels, facecloths or personal items

● Wear thongs in public showers

Research your destination

Different destinations carry different risks when it comes to general health and the health of your skin. It’s worth carrying out a little research before you go to find out what kind of insects or animals you may need to protect yourself from, what the water quality is like, and importantly, whether you require any vaccines.

Your Capital Chemist pharmacist can help. They can offer advice on anything you may need to do to prepare for your trip, including what vaccines need to be considered and when is the best time to have them.

You may also be interested in the following:

A smoothie bowl recipe for healthy skin
6 things that can trigger eczema — and how to avoid them

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Acknowledgement of Country

Capital Chemist acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.