Doctors warn about dangers of sun exposure and heat exhaustion as temps rise

Families play at a splash pad to keep cool
Families play at a splash pad to keep cool(WMTV Elise Romas)
Published: Jun. 4, 2021 at 5:37 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 7:24 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With heat and sun exposure come potential health dangers, and healthcare professionals are reminding people what to watch out for as we head into a heat wave.

“The number one thing is really making sure that you’re protecting yourself well from UV exposure,” UW-Health Dermatologist, Dr. Apple Bodemer said. Bodemer said it’s important to remember two things: sunscreen and shade.

She added that the sunny weather is a good reminder to everyone to lather up, no matter if you have a light or dark complexion. Bodemer says five bad sunburns before turning 20-year-old could double someone’s risk of melanoma.

“Skin cancer is the number one cancer we see today and it’s getting more and more common in younger and younger people,” Bodemer said.

Those burns could also increase the appearance of aging.

“Teens or young adults who aren’t thinking about skin cancer until later in their lives, by the time they reach 30 or 40, that photo damage, you can see those signs of the aging, sagging skin and wrinkles,” Bodemer said.

Bodemer said you should reapply your sunscreen every two hours and every time you get out of the pool and towel off. “People who are fair-skinned like me are at a higher risk, but it doesn’t mean that the risk is zero for someone who doesn’t burn easily and when they do develop skin cancer it can often be more serious,” Bodemer said.

Sun exposure is just one risk, heat is another.

Emergency Medical Dr. Jeff Pothof at UW-health says when you are outside in high temps, you should monitor your body for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“You’ll notice that your muscles are cramping up and you may be in pain, that’s a good indicator that you’re not doing really well,” Pothof said.

You could also feel dizzy and nauseous; some people even stop sweating and become disoriented.

“Heat stroke can get very serious and you need medical attention if you get into that kind of scenario,” Pothof said.

As we head into a heat wave, doctors say the bottom line is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

“[Find] some shade when you can, trying to avoid that mid-day sun,” Bodemer said.

“Bring plenty of water with you, that can stall any of these heat-related illnesses from happening,” Pothof said.

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