Seven summer myths busted!!

1. I need a mosquito repellent only at bedtime.

Not really. Mosquitoes are a menace anytime of the day. “In fact, the dangerous Aedes mosquito that causes dengue is most active during the day-in the morning and early hours of the evening,” says Dr PC Bhatnagar, director, Communicable Diseases, Voluntary Health Association of India, New Delhi. To keep safe, slather citronella oil or mosquito repellent creams on exposed body parts. It’s ideal that you wear clothes that cover your hands and feet-this is especially crucial for kids and the elderly, who are most vulnerable to the virus, he adds. Use plug-in repellents at home and mosquito nets for bedtime. The first step to stop breeding of mosquitoes is to keep your surroundings clean and making sure that there is no accumulation of water-even clean water-in or outside your home.
2. I just went for a swim, I don’t need a shower.

On the contrary, you need to shower before and after a swim! A shower before helps to maintain the hygiene levels in the pool. But a good rubdown with a shower gel is extremely important not just to rid yourself of germs, but also for better skin. “Chlorine in the water can cause dryness. Plus, the pool water can cause the pigment in the deeper layers of the skin to come to the surface. A bath with a shower gel helps to stop that,” explains Dr Apratim Goel, dermatologist at Cutis Skin Studio, Mumbai. “Don’t skip the shampoo and conditioner either-chlorine can damage your hair and cause discolouration too,” she adds.

 

3. I can’t catch a cold in an AC room.

Not quite true. “While a drop in temperature is not what increases the risk of catching a cold, the germs that thrive in the AC does,” says Dr Rakesh Gupta, senior consultant, internal medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. So for those who are susceptible, being in an AC room can trigger a cold. Make sure the AC filter is changed regularly and stay away from the direct blast from the machine, he adds.

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4. Chilled showers will cool me down.

Jumping into a cold shower on a hot day may be just what you want to do, but it may not actually cool you off. Surprised? Hear this. “The body possesses a natural thermostat that preserves its core temperature (98.4 for most of us). Suddenly going from hot to cold causes your body’s defence mechanism to kick in. This may make your blood vessels contract stopping you from taking in the coolness,” says Gupta. So taking a bath in water at room temperature is what may help you beat the heat.

5. I don’t need a sunscreen when it’s cloudy.

If you skip sunscreen on a cloudy day, you’re asking for a sunburn. “The UV rays can penetrate the clouds-even glass (think window panes at home),” says Dr Jamuna Pai, cosmetic physician and aesthetician, Blush Clinics, Mumbai. Exposure to these harmful rays can permanently change the colour of your skin and may also lead to premature ageing. Use a broad spectrum (that blocks UVA and UVB) SPF 30 to 50 sunscreen about 20 minutes before you step out. Re-apply every 2 hours. “Look for products with avobenzone, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide,” Pai adds.

 

6. Any drink can hydrate.

Not necessarily. “Caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, colas) and alcohol have a diuretic effect which leads to dehydration,” says Prevention advisor Dr Rajiv Khosla. Quench your thirst with cool water (you need about 3 litres in a summer day). Mind the electrolyte balance because you lose salt with sweat. Fill up on a few glasses of coconut water, lemonade or buttermilk. If you are watching your calories, mind the sugar in fruit juices (even 100pc) as well as smoothies that we tend to go overboard with, in summer.
7. Fruits are always a healthy snack.

Yes they are, as long as cut fruits haven’t been kept out in the open, says Khosla. Hot, humid weather breeds bacteria. Plus houseflies transfer nasty bugs on uncovered, cut fruits. “So wash and cut fruits just before you want to eat them. If there are leftovers, cover and put them in the fridge rightaway,” adds Khosla. Carry whole fruits when you are travelling; keep diced melons, watermelons, mangoes for home.

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