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Heat Stroke, Sunburn & Dehydration Advice

Underestimating the power of the tropical sun can often lead to health problems with dehydration, heatstroke and getting sunburn.

Sun Skin Damage:
When you first arrive in Gambia on holiday you should begin your sunbathing regime gently. The amount of time you can spend out depends on your skin type. To minimize skin damage you should avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Also, wear broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30. Even if it's a cloudy day you should still put on sunblock cream or sun spray.

Some people will get heat rash in the first couple of days. Miliaria is caused by excessive perspiration, usually in a hot, humid weather. The ducts from the sweat glands in the skin become blocked. This causes the sweat to seep into the adjacent tissue, causing redness and irritation. You may feel the stinging, prickly,  sensation that gives this condition its name. Most rashes will heal by themselves over time. To relieve the symptoms you should take a cool shower, air dry your body i.e. don't use a towel, then put some baby powder over the affected area. However, you must avoid the use of too much air-conditioning if you want to acclimatize.

Dehydration & Heatstroke:
To avoid getting dehydrated drink lots of water in sips and gulps throughout the day, take along a bottle of water, or buy one of the plastic, purified water sachets sold in most shops. You should also try and wear a hat and UV sunglasses to protect you from the glare. It really can get very bright in the mid-day sun. If you have any of the following symptoms of dizziness, a throbbing headache, light-headedness, muscle cramps or weakness, nausea, vomiting, lack of sweating despite heat or red, hot, and dry skin, then this could be a sign that your are getting heatstroke. Go seek medical advice immediately.

In Europe and the colder part of the USA people are used to walking at a faster pace that in The Gambia. This is probably due to the cold, and an attempt at creating some internal heat. The problem is that when you come to Banjul you should slow down during daylight hours, and walk at a slower pace, as it's easy to get overheated.
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