It's summer, and before you know it, you may be in a situation in which you are super-duper hot with no air-conditioning in sight. What do you do now? A heat-related illness can spring up in a hurry, so it's vital to cool down ASAP, as some of these conditions can be deadly. Here are some ways to cool yourself down when you're hot and some prevention tips that will help ward off some of your problems before you even set your foot out the door.
Ice up your pulse points
If you're super-hot, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse tells SheKnows that cold tap water or ice packs can be applied to sensitive, thin-skinned and vascular areas of your body, including your wrists, armpits, the back of your neck or your groin. "This will help cool your body temperature and help you feel less hot fairly quickly," she explains.
Wear breathable clothes
Make sure to dress for success for dealing with this hot weather. Shainhouse says it's vital to wear light-colored, breathable and non-fitted clothing if you're going to be outside when it's hot. Another option is to pick clothing that's reinforced with absorbent materials in the armpits.
"You can also consider wearing an absorbent ‘liner’ shirt that can be your first line of [defense for] catching the sweat," she says, which can help wick away the sweaty stuff and can keep you cool.
Anxiety can lead to a higher heart rate and can make you feel even worse in the moment, so Shainhouse recommends taking a few deep breaths if you feel anxiety rise up.
"Learning how to manage anxiety with breathing, yoga [or] biofeedback can not only keep you calm in the moment, but make you less focused and stressed about the possibility of sweating — or the fact that you are already sweaty — which itself can trigger further sweating," she explains.
Avoid caffeine & alcohol
While it can be tempting to grab a coffee while you're out or a beer if you're at the ball game, Shainhouse says this is not the best idea. "Go for ice cream instead of coffee or wine; caffeine and alcohol can trigger sweating for some people, apart from the warming effect of hot coffee," she says.
Dr. Mikhail Varshavski, a physician also known as Dr. Mike, says that staying hydrated can keep you cool on a hot day, and can (more important) ward off the potentially dangerous effects of dehydration. "Sip on water throughout the day — make it a habit because staying ahead of dehydration is smart," he tells SheKnows. "Once you are thirsty, you're already mildly dehydrated."
Put on an antiperspirant at bedtime
This is something to do way before you go outside and get hot, but Shainhouse says applying prescription-strength antiperspirant at bedtime the night before is an excellent way to reduce sweating the next day.
Dr. Sandra Morris, a physician and area medical director of MedExpress, tells SheKnows that if you're outside and active, there are certain foods to avoid.
"Avoid foods high in protein, sugar and fiber, as they require more digestion, which produces more metabolic heat and warms the body," she explains. "Stick to light foods, such as fruits — strawberries, cucumbers or melons — as these help hydrate and are easy to digest."
Work up to activity levels slowly
If you have to be active in the heat, don't go all-out immediately. Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, a sports medicine specialist and cochair of medical affairs at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, tells SheKnows that it's better to work your way up to the desired activity level.
"It's vital for anyone who's going to be exercising in extreme heat to work up to it slowly so your body has time to acclimate to the conditions it's being put to work under," he notes.
Of course, it's easiest to dash into an air-conditioned building or plop in front of a fan, but if you're feeling muggy and there is no AC oasis in sight, these tips can help you cool off until you can find that temperature-controlled indoor bliss.