Five tips for a healthy vacation

— Planning your next beach vacation? While having fun in the sun, consider these five tips to make sure your trip is a healthy one.

Avoid Tanning, Be Sun Safe

Thinking about getting a “healthy tan” over vacation? Think again. Any increase in skin pigment (called “melanin”) is a sign of damage. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause wrinkles and dark spots among other problems—and tanning puts you at higher risk for skin cancer. Plus, sunlight reflecting off of sand or water increases exposure to UV radiation and increases your risk of developing eye problems. But sunny days can still figure into your trip. Here is how to be sun safe.

•Use sunscreen. Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays, and choose an SPF of 15 or higher. You need at least one ounce of sunscreen lotion (the size of a golf ball) to cover your body. Reapply at least every 2 hours, or every 40 to 80 minutes when swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the product label. And limit the time your skin is exposed to the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

•Wear sunglasses. Certain sunglasses can help protect your eyes. Choose sunglasses labeled with a UVA/UVB rating of 100% to get the most UV protection.

•Wear protective clothing. Consider wearing a hat and clothing that covers skin exposed to the sun. Try to stay in the shade under an umbrella or limit your time in the sun—especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.

•Understand the facts about tanning beds. You may be tempted to “pre-tan” before a beach vacation. But don’t. The lamps in these beds emit ultraviolet radiation that can be more intense and harmful than the sun. The FDA recommends carefully reading the instructions and warnings before using these beds. Also note that tanning pills and accelerators are not approved by the FDA.

•Beware of spray tans and bronzers. Know that spray-on tanning or bronzing products are not UV protective.

Check Medications Before You Go

Know what medications you’ll need while on vacation. Check that you have enough to last the trip.

Also, review the instructions for taking medications. Look for warnings about interactions your medicines might have with certain foods or drinks and any other side effects. For instance, some medications can make you more sensitive to sunlight. Talk to your healthcare provider about concerns or questions you have about your medications before you go. Don’t skip doses, don’t share medication, and don’t take more than the suggested dose.

Keep your medicine with you when traveling. (If you’re flying, you don’t want to land in Cancun and have your prescriptions land in Cleveland.) And keep a detailed list of what you’re taking and note the phone number of your health care provider. If you need to seek medical care while you’re away, this information will be helpful.

Be Careful With Contact Lenses

If you wear contact lenses, be sure you have the supplies you need to last the trip. To avoid problems such as eye infections and corneal ulcers, make sure your contacts are prescribed by an eye care professional. Skip colored or decorative lenses sold in beauty supply stores or at the boardwalk, since they can damage your eyes.