Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Keeping Healthy at Summer Music Festivals

If you're off to a festival this summer make sure you take some time before hand to prepare for all eventualities. Festivals are meant to be fun but they are also an ideal place for your health to suffer.

Firstly make some room in your rucksack to pack a first aid kit. A few essentials in between the glow sticks and cans of beer won't take up much room and you'll be thankful for it if you do pick up a bug, cut or burn. If you're on any regular medication make sure you take that with you too.

You can find a great range of travel and outdoor first aid kits at First Aid Warehouse and if you want to make a DIY first aid kit check out Boots for all the bits you'll need and where you can also pick up homeopathic and other alternative remedies.

Sun Protection
Take at least Factor 15 sun cream or lotion and remember if you're out all day to apply it regularly. Even if it doesn't appear very sunny you can still get burnt from the rays that penetrate clouds. Read more in our guide to staying safe in the sun. And don't forget your sun hat - fingers crossed that you actually get to wear it!

Aloe Vera and calamine lotion are good at soothing burnt skin and Belladonna is a homeopathic remedy recommended if you get sunstroke.

Bugs And Allergies
Not only can they be very painful or itchy, insect bites can also leave the skin prone to infection so do all you can to avoid getting bitten by using a spray or diffuser. If you do get bitten an antiseptic cream will help keep out infection. Anti-histamine tablets will help treat hayfever and other allergies. Also, if you are asthmatic remember to pack a spare inhaler.

Aspirin or Nurofen will help with the inevitable hangover after a few festival ciders.

Anti-Diarrhea Tablets
Change of diet, stress and food poisoning can all bring on an upset stomach. Read more about precautions you can take to avoid food poisoning, pack some Diareze or Arret tablets and make sure if you do get diarrhoea you drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids. If you get very sick visit the festival medical centre for proper treatment.

Cushioned plasters are good for preventing blisters and antiseptic plasters will help keep festival dirt out of any nicks and cuts you might get.

If you're on The Pill remember to take enough with you to last your time away. It might also be worth you skipping the normal break if you're due to have your period at a festival although check with your doctor first. And throw in a few condoms just in case - even if you don't get lucky you can always 'lend' them to your friends.

One of the best things about festivals is sampling all the different types of food on offer but if you're not careful it's also a very easy way to pick up a nasty stomach bug. However, it's important that you keep well nourished as the drinking and dancing can really take their toll on your poor body.

If you have overdone it on the alcohol a starchy meal like pie and mash, fish and chips, a jacket potato or some noodles will help replenish your blood sugars and line the stomach for the next round of drinks. Although a sugar fix may seem like the easier option you'll only get a quick boost before feeling an energy slump again.

Vitamins and minerals are essential so try and eat some fruit - you'll find lots of stalls selling fruit kebabs, watermelon slices or smoothies which not only taste delicious but are good for you. They'll also go some way to replenishing lost fluids. If you have hurt your stomach lining go easy on the acid though and avoid things like undiluted orange juice.

Fresh water should be freely available on the festival site and it's important that you drink plenty to keep hydrated particularly if you have been sick or had diarrhea. Take a small bottle that you can carry with you and use water purification tablets to avoid contamination.

If you are worried about eating food purchased on site then take a camping stove or charcoal grill with you. There are plenty of tasty and healthy meals that can be cooked outdoors. Remember to always wash your hands before handling food and make sure food is cooked through thoroughly.

It's likely that you'll do a lot more walking than you're usually used to so give some thought to your poor feet as well as those you're sharing a tent with!

Don't buy a brand new pair of trainers or walking boots without wearing them in first. You're better off taking an old pair of comfy shoes as they're likely to get pretty dirty anyway. Do wear socks - thick hiking socks are great - and if you do feel your shoes rubbing stick on a plaster before you get a blister. Vaseline can also be a godsend to prevent sores.

Try and wash your feet at least once a day and make sure you dry them properly. Not only will this keep them smelling sweet but will prevent any fungal infections. If the sun comes out wear a pair of sandals or flip-flops to let your feet breathe a bit and take a pair of clean socks for each day you're there.

Running around barefoot in the grass may seem like a groovy thing to do especially when you're trying to get into the hippy spirit but the ground at a festival is likely to be full of hidden dangers like broken glass, needles, dropped food and the odd cow pat or two. So keep your shoes on and wear sandals or flip-flops instead so you can still feel the breeze between your toes.

If it rains and the ground gets muddy then you need to take extra care of your feet. Make sure you dry them thoroughly at the end of each day and don't leave soggy socks on for long. Having constantly wet feet can lead to trench foot so if your feet get swollen or blistered seek attention at the medical center immediately.

When you return to the comfort of you own home we recommend you give yourself a DIY pedicure. Or better still - give it to the one you love. That way you can guarantee you'll get a free festival ticket next year!

Look after your festival feet and look stylish with a comfortable pair of Converse trainers

Anna Price

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