Planning a vacation? FDA has some tips

Planning to get away to a sunny locale this summer? The Food and Drug Administration is offering some tips for ensuring your next beach vacation is a healthy one.

Here’s what health officials recommend:

  • Avoid tanning: 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.

Instead, the FDA recommends using sunscreen (broad spectrum that protects against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 15 or higher), wearing sunglasses (choose lenses with UVA/UVB rating of 100 percent), wearing protective clothing, understand the facts about tanning beds, and beware of spray tan and bronzing products (no UV protection).

  •  Check medications: Know what meds you’ll need while on vacay and make sure you have enough to last the trip. Also, look for warnings about possible interactions or side effects (for example, some meds can make you more sensitive to sunlight).
  • Careful with contact lenses: Make sure you have enough contact supplies for the trip, and be sure to remove contacts before swimming or getting in the hot tub. Be sure to bring your glasses as a back-up. And skip the non-prescribed colored or decorative lenses.
  • Don’t get tattoos or henna: Getting a tattoo can put you at risk for infection if you’re exposed to unclean tools, practices or products. The FDA hasn’t approved any inks for injecting into the skin and doesn’t regulate tattoo parlors. The FDA also hasn’t approved henna dye for skin use.
  • Drink water: Dehydration can be mild, moderate or severe, so don’t forget water when heading to the beach. But beware of ice or tap water in places where the water isn’t safe to drink.
Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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