Weather forecast predicts very hot summer this year, thus tickets to Crimea or last minute deals abroad will be worth their weight in gold. Having escaped concrete arms of large cities, we rush into arms of sun, sea, beach and fun and do not think about returning home and consequences of our carelessness. ForUm has asked chief dermatovenerologist of the Healthcare Ministry of Ukraine Oleksandr Litus about how to spend holidays nicely and safely.

Forewarned is forearmed

Wherever you go, native Kyrylovka or exotic Thailand, don't forget that you can bring back not only fridge magnets, but also health problems. "As a rule, Ukrainians return from vacations with allergic reactions, mycosis or even 'exotic' sexually transmitted diseases. However, the most frequent cases include sun burns, insect bites, allergic contact dermatitis, reaction to jelly-fish poison and exotic food. There is also a risk of acute-on-chronic flare," Oleksandr Ivanovych says.

According to him, the holiday destination always plays its role, as every country has its climate, plants, insects, allergens and other external factors which can cause diseases. "In exotic countries tourists risk to catch tropic infections and fevers, carried by insects or water-borne. Chronic effect of sun (uncharacteristic for our region) is also dangerous, as it can cause skin neoplasm, both benign (keratoma, mole) and malignant (melanoma, etc.)," he says.

Going on vacation abroad, study the risk groups characteristic  for this or that country, the doctor recommends. "Read about a set of primary remedies, like medicines, creams, sanitizers, don't forget about clothes protecting from excessive sun exposure, etc," he says. Such means may save the situation one day. Very often local amenities seem harmless, but can appear dangerous, like in the case of local animals which we want to touch and take in arms.

"Hair of any animal, particularly an exotic one, can be an allergen itself. Moreover, there are certain infections on animal's skin, claws and teeth, and a person can catch these infections if he has scratches or other small injuries. And if an infection is uncharacteristic for our region,  nobody knows how the organism will react. Thus any contact with animals, birds and plants must be minimized," the doctors warns.   

One's own doctor

However, a disease you can bring back from tropics is not as dangerous as self-treatment. "In any family the mother is considered the doctor, who knows better what to do and what to take. There is a standard set of remedies one can buy in a pharmacy, like a cream with wide range of antibiotics, hormonal agents or antihistamines. Without a consultation people try them on themselves and it may seem that the disease is gone. People go to a doctor only when the symptoms are back or medicines found through internet do not help. Such attitude is wrong," the doctor says.

According to him, such self-treatment complicates the work of the doctor. "Before trying some remedies, it is better to visit a doctor, establish a diagnosis and prescribe proper treatment. It will cost you less is all senses. Engaging into self-treatment patients waste time and risk complications. Moreover, it is more difficult to establish correct diagnose, as the clinical picture is blur. If you go to the doctor immediately, you have more chances to identify the disease correctly," Oleksandr Ivanovych recommends. 

"Visit a doctor in any case. If you have already started self-treatment, but after two or three days no effect is observed, visiting a doctor is a must," the doctor appeals to reason. Hesitation or shyness in such cases can result into deplorable consequences.

In his opinion, it is not difficult to find a good dermatologist or venereologist. "Every doctor, public or private, has taken the Hippocratic Oath, and doing a poor job he violates it. If you do not have regular doctor, you can go to the community based clinic or dermatovenerologic dispensary. You can also ask your family doctor to recommend some specialist," the chief doctor says.

To avoid any visits to doctors, the dermatologist recommends to take on vacation sunscreen, care products for sunburns, anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs, antiseptics and insect repellents. "The best thing to do, however, is to protect the skin from sun, not to overeat exotic food and follow all recommendations for tourists. Moreover, take means of protection against sexually transmitted disease, condoms at the very least, and antiseptic personal hygiene products. Coming back from vacation, visit a doctor and submit to a blood test  to sleep better at night," the doctor says.

It is obvious that nobody wants to spend time and money on diseases caught through folly and poor judgment. Thus, it is better to prepare thoroughly and remember that after vacation life goes on.

Tetyana Hryhoriyeva


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