Staycation or far overseas, the pharmacy essentials you need to pack on holidays

After a scorching hot summer, some of you may be lucky enough to be jetting off again and making the most of the good weather, near or far Depending on the destination, though, knowing what to pack can boggle the best of us. Fear not, as your Allcare Pharmacy stocks all the essentials that you need before you head off, such as the travel minatures, as well as any further advice that you might need along the way.

Depending on your destination, you may need to take particular precautionary medicines or vaccines to prevent infection against conditions such as malaria or yellow fever. Your GP, Allcare Pharmacist or local travel health clinic is best to advise on what you may need to do before going abroad in this light, but this NHS resource in the UK is a good indicator on what preparation you may need.

As a general rule of thumb, these are the essentials that everyone will need to bring with, or have access to if they are near a pharmacy:

  • Sunscreen. Even on a cloudy day, the sun’s rays can damage the skin if protection is not applied, even if you are only nipping out for a few minutes. A sunscreen of at least SPF 30 is recommended; 50 if travelling to very hot countries or if your skin is susceptible to burning. Check the UV index for home or abroad, and apply sunscreen to skin at least ten minutes before sun exposure. At least six teaspoons of sunscreen needs to be applied to a body for adequate protection, and application after long periods of time or in the water is recommended. Take shade where you can, avoid the sun at its peak between 11 AM and 3 PM and regular breaks from the sun. The Irish Cancer Society’s SunSmart code is an excellent reference to further educate on how to take the most appropriate sun protection.
  • Aftersun is handy to have in the event that sunscreen doesn’t protect you. Aftersun provides a cooling effect to the skin should it burn, and helps to soothe and allow repair. If you have been badly burnt, you can take painkillers – speak to your pharmacist or Allcare team to make sure you get the right one for you.
  • Not only a style accessory, it’s really important to wear sunglasses in order to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Eyes are more susceptible to sun damage than your skin, which can lead to conditions in time such as cataracts if you are not careful. Make sure when you are purchasing sunglasses, that they have certified UV protection which is available in most pharmacies – a darker tint does not necessarily mean that you are covered.
  • In case you get sick while you are away, the most important thing that you can bring with you are oral rehydration sachets, such as Dioralyte. These sachets when made up correctly help to rebalance the salts in your body that may be lost if you vomit or have a loose bowel movement. It is recommended to take one sachet for adults after vomiting or a loose bowel movement, which should be sipped slowly rather than gulping. These sachets once made up can be stored in a refridgerator for up to 24 hours. Where the water supply may not be reliable or suitable for drinking, use bottled water or freshly boiled and cooled water to prevent further illness. For further precautionary medication, ask your Allcare pharmacy team for advice.
  • On that note, stay hydrated! If you are travelling or sunbathing in hot countries, make sure to bring a bottle of water with you at all times and sip slowly throughout the day. Avoid alcohol and caffeine while out in the sun, as they have a dehydrating effect on the body.

If you are travelling further away or to more exotic destinations, the following advice may be worth investing in:

  • Flight socks are recommended for people that are going on a flight for at least four hours. These socks offer light compression to the lower legs and feet which help to prevent blood clotting and thrombosis, as well as leg swelling if you are prone to it. Your Allcare pharmacy team have flight socks in store that they can measure you for or else order in. It is recommended to speak to your GP before a long journey if you have been told that you are at high risk of thrombosis or blood clots, or recently had surgery.
  • For your long haul flight, wear comfortable, loose clothing and try and stretch your legs for walk up and down the aisle where feasible. Drawing the alphabet with your big toe while sitting down with each foot can also help to keep the blood flowing.
  • Insect repellent is an important investment to prevent you from getting nasty and itchy bites while away. Repellent is recommended in hot countries and where you may be near low-flowing water or long grass, with DEET spray being the best in the class. Insect repellent should be applied after you put suncream on leaving 5 to 10 minutes between applications, and applied directly to exposed skin without rubbing it in.
  • If you take prescribed medication, don’t carry it in your main luggage that you check in. This is not only so you aren’t at a loss if your baggage goes missing, but also the temperature in the airplane cabin is regulated which makes sure that your medicines stay at the temperature they should be kept at. If you are worried about travelling through customs, your Allcare pharmacist can print and stamp a list of your regular medication list as proof of authenticity. If you are travelling with products that should be kept in the fridge such as insulins, put them in a cooler bag, but don’t put them in ice – freezing may damage the quality of insulin.
  • In terms of food and drink, check if the water is suitable for drinking where you are but when in doubt, use bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. Food products at high risk such as meat should be cooked through/welldone, and avoidance of raw foods including fruit and vegetables is advised – or at least peeling before eating them!