The Heat: Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke/Sunstroke

The symptoms of heat exhaustion or heatstroke can start slowly and appear innocent, but this is a potentially dangerous situation, especially among the young and elderly. A person might feel dizzy, faint, nauseous, or drowsy. They might be confused or disoriented, have a headache, fever, rapid heartbeat, or hyperventilation. A temperature over 104 degrees F {40 degrees C} is a sure warning sign unless the person has just momentarily become hot from exercising in the sun. When the body’s thermoregulation system is overwhelmed, the person stops sweating which is a sure sign of trouble, especially if the skin becomes hot and dry and flushed red. Also, the person can be feeling cold and shivering, even though heatstroke is the cause. It’s easy to think that heatstroke won’t happen in humid conditions, but humidity reduces the evaporation of perspiration and so keeps heat in. Whatever the circumstances of heat exhaustion, heatstroke, or sunstroke, it is important to get medical attention as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, get the person out of the sun and into the cool. Remove any unnecessary clothing. Attempt to cool them down in any way possible, using cool water sponging, cool compresses, a water spray, or regularly replaced cold, wet towels. Key areas to try and cool down are the head, neck, armpits, wrists, and groin. If nothing more than water is available, pour it over the person’s head and over the key areas. As soon as possible, get the person in a cool shower or, better still, into a bath of cool water. This option, however, is not advisable if the person is elderly or has cardiovascular disease, because it can raise blood pressure.

If pouring water over the body, apply 1 drop of neat eucalyptus radiata to the back of the neck. When sponging, use ice-cold water with eucalyptus radiata and lavender oils added and continue for at least 24 hours. One quick dowsing with water will only lower the body temperature by one-hundredth of a degree, which isn’t going to be enough. Alternatively, if immersing the person in a cold-water bath, add 4 drops each of eucalyptus radiata and lavender essential oil. Apply neat lavender or eucalyptus radiata to their temples, the back of their neck, and the solar plexus – the upper abdomen – and have them breathe deeply.

Although the person with heatstroke may not feel thirsty, they should drink plenty of liquids. If you can’t find rehydration packs in the local stores, make up your own as described below**. Heatstroke can develop over days and takes a few days to recover from it. Keep an eye on the patient throughout this time.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps can occur after unaccustomed exercise and perspiration, with loss of body fluid and electrolytes. Drink plenty of water and take rehydration drinks, or make your own and massage the legs with the following oil:

Heat Cramps

Geranium: 2 drops

Eucalyptus Radiata: 3 drops

Blend together and then dilute by adding 3-5 drops to each 1 teaspoon {5mL} of carrier oil.

Prickly Heat

Prickly heat {miliaria rubra} is a rash of tiny blisters that can look like little pink or red spots. Caused by blocked sweat glands, it is extremely itchy. It can affect any part of the body, and the best line of action is to keep as cool as possible and expose the area to air only cover with light cotton clothing.

Apply a splash to the area, made by diluting 6 drops each of eucalyptus radiata, lavender, and chamomile roman to a teaspoon of alcohol {vodka is fine} and shaking it all in a large cup of spring water. Warm baths are very soothing if you add to them 4 drops each of eucalyptus radiata and lavender essential oil.

Including baking soda in the bath is a good solution. If you can use this method, you only need lavender oil, but – and this is important – add the lavender to the baking soda and mix them together before putting in the bath; don’t just put them in separately. Below are the amounts you will need for various age groups. If wanting to help a baby, try to get hold of calamine lotion. Add 2 drops of chamomile german {or chamomile roman} and 2 drops of lavender to 2 tablespoons {30 mL} of calamine lotion. Alternatively, bathe the baby in a warm bath, ensuring the folds of the skin are thoroughly dried afterward.

Baking Soda Blend for Prickly Heat: Babies

Baking soda: 1/2 cup

Lavender: 1 drop

Mix the lavender essential oil with the baking soda thoroughly before adding a small amount to the bath. If the baby is under 12 months, this quantity is enough for four baths; if between 12 and 24 months, this makes enough for three baths.

Baking Soda Blend for Prickly Heat: Children Age 2 to 7 Years

Baking soda: 1/2 cup

Lavender: 2 drops

Mix the lavender essential oil with the baking soda thoroughly before adding to the bath. This quantity is enough for two baths.

Baking Soda Blend for Prickly Heat: Children Age 8 to 10 Years

Baking soda: 1/2 cup

Lavender: 3 drops

Mix the lavender essential oil with the baking soda thoroughly before adding to the bath. This quantity is enough for two baths.

Baking Soda Blend for Prickly Heat: 11 Years to Adult

Baking soda: 1 cup

Lavender: 3-4 drops

Mix the lavender essential oil with the baking soda thoroughly before adding to the bath.

**Rehydrating Blend

Drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost and take a rehydration formula drink to replace electrolytes. If you can’t get one, make your own:

Bottled water: 1 pint {475 mL}

Sugar: 3 level teaspoons

Salt: 1/4 teaspoon

Lemon essential oil: 1 drop {or fresh lemon or lime juice}

Mix together well and drink one small glass at a time.

A warm bath with 4 drops each of geranium and ginger essential oil diluted in a small amount of carrier oil often helps to calm the nerves, and at the very least it will make you feel better.

The Sun; Overexposure to Sun, Sea, and Wind

summer solstice sunDespite repeated warnings that skin cancer is caused at least in part by exposure to the sun, people still flock to the beach, where they lie prostrate, soaking in as much sunshine as they can. Hopefully, they are wearing a high factor sunscreen. But lying on the beach more than half naked with nothing much to do does provide the perfect opportunity to make a detailed note, in writing, of the mole’s we have. And as we seldom lie on the beach alone, our companion can examine the back of our body too. Making a mole map might turn out to be the most useful souvenir you take home with you, especially if you update it regularly to identify any new moles or any changes in existing ones.

One important thing to remember when using essential oils in the sun is that a few of them are what are known as photosensitive oils. This means they could increase our skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

Sunburn can vary considerably in degree. If the burn is severe and there is blistering, medical assistance may be required. If there is simply redness or a feeling of skin tightness and soreness, one effective first aid treatment is the miraculous oil of lavender.

As with all burns, it’s crucial to first get the heat out of the skin, so fill a sink or bath with cold water, add ice if possible, and immerse the sunburnt area as soon as you can. Then apply 1 or 2 drops of neat {undiluted} lavender essential oil over the sunburned area, bearing in mind that 1 or 2 drops of lavender will go quite a long way. You don’t need to overdo it; simply make sure that the lavender has covered the reddened area. If you haven’t got any lavender with you, use chamomile instead. Then, if you have it to hand, cover the area with cooling aloe vera gel. Pregnant women should not use lavender in this way, but they can use the aloe vera gel on its own.

If you do this, by morning hopefully you won’t notice a thing if you weren’t sunburned too badly. But do stay out of the sun for at least three days, even if the area looks perfectly fine.

Taking care of skin that’s been exposed to more than the usual amount of sunshine makes sense, and the following after-sun oils will also help repair it.

After-Sun Oil

Lavender: 10 drops

Chamomile-german: 5 drops

Geranium: 2 drops

Dilute in:

Sweet almond oil: 4 tablespoons {60 mL}

Sesame oil: 3 tablespoons {30 mL}

Apply as a body oil after showering or bathing, paying particular attention to areas of skin that have been overexposed to the sun.

After-Sun Bath Oil

Chamomile-roman: 4 drops

Geranium: 2 drops

Lavender: 2 drops

Dilute these after-sun bath essential oils in 1 tablespoon {15 mL} of jojoba oil and add it all to a bath. While in the bath, gently smooth the oil over the areas that have been exposed to the sun.

The following body and face oil is very effective in the drying conditions of wind and sun, such as experienced when skiing, sailing, or hiking.

Apres Ski, Sun, Sail, and Hike Oil

Chamomile-roman: 8 drops

Geranium: 8 drops

Lavender: 8 drops

Dilute in:

Jojoba oil: 2 teaspoons {10 mL}

Sesame seed oil: 1 teaspoon {5 mL}

Evening primrose seed oil: 1 teaspoon {5 mL}

Almond oil, sweet: 2 tablespoons {30 mL}

Blend the ingredients together well and use the oil every night before sleeping.