Summer in Australia – the beach, barbeques, outdoor picnics. Here are four myths about our most iconic season, useful no matter which country you spend the sunny days and long evenings in!
Myth (1) – Wait 30 minutes after eating before you swim
It’s claimed that more blood flows to your stomach after eating, not leaving enough blood to bring energy to your arms and legs for swimming, making them more likely to cramp.
But research shows enough blood can flow to the arms and legs. Drowning statistics also show no association with eating. The real risk is with alcohol or drugs (associated with one in five drownings).
Myth (2) – Mosquitoes prefer sweet blood
Mosquitoes vary in what attracts them. Type O blood appears more likely to be attractive, but people of all blood types still get bitten too. Certain natural skin bacteria give off smells that attract specific mosquitoes, however these bacteria change daily on our skin. In the end, you’ll never know exactly why you got bitten, but someone next to you didn’t.
Myth (3) – Sea water for cuts
Salt in sea water is supposed to clean wounds. But sea water may also contain bacteria that cause a skin infection. If you’re immune system is weak, avoid sea water for cuts. Everyone else can first use sea water, but afterwards you should clean wounds with a sterile disinfectant.
Myth (4) – SPF50+ sunscreen much better
SPF50+ sunscreen’s protection shouldn’t be overestimated. It needs to be put on just as liberally as SPF30+ sunscreen, re-applied every two hours (or after swimming etc.), and used with protective hats, clothing, sunglasses and shade.
In particular, while SPF50+ blocks 98% of ultra-violet B (UVB) radiation, SPF30+ blocks 97%, only marginally less. That’s why Cancer Council Australia recommends any sunscreen that is SPF30+ or more (and labelled broad spectrum and water-resistant).
Speak to your GP for more information.