Underestimating the power of the tropical sun can often lead to
health problems with dehydration, heatstroke and getting sunburn.
Sun Skin Damage:
When you first arrive in Gambia on holiday you should begin your
sunbathing regime gently. The amount of time you can spend
out depends on your skin type. To minimize skin damage you should
avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Also, wear broad
spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen with a minimum sun protection
factor (SPF) of 30. Even if it's a cloudy day you should still
put on sunblock cream or sun spray.
Some people will get heat rash in the first couple of days.
Miliaria is caused by excessive perspiration, usually in a hot,
humid weather. The ducts from the sweat glands in the skin become
blocked. This causes the sweat to seep into the adjacent tissue,
causing redness and irritation. You may feel the stinging, prickly,
sensation that gives this condition its name. Most rashes will
heal by themselves over time. To relieve the symptoms you should
take a cool shower, air dry your body i.e. don't use a towel,
then put some baby powder over the affected area. However, you
must avoid the use of too much air-conditioning if you want to
Dehydration & Heatstroke:
To avoid getting dehydrated drink lots of water in sips
and gulps throughout the day, take along a bottle of water, or
buy one of the plastic, purified water sachets sold in most shops.
You should also try and wear a hat and UV sunglasses
to protect you from the glare. It really can get very bright in
the mid-day sun. If you have any of the following symptoms of
dizziness, a throbbing headache, light-headedness, muscle cramps
or weakness, nausea, vomiting, lack of sweating despite heat or
red, hot, and dry skin, then this could be a sign that your are
getting heatstroke. Go seek medical advice immediately.
In Europe and the colder part of the USA people are used to walking
at a faster pace that in The Gambia. This is probably due to the
cold, and an attempt at creating some internal heat. The problem
is that when you come to Banjul you should slow down during daylight
hours, and walk at a slower pace, as it's easy to get overheated.