I present quite commonly on travel. I believe that all primary care physicians and pharmacists can make basic travel recommendations. Here are some cross posts from my AMA I did on resort travel. Hopefully you find them useful for helping you have your discussions with your patients.
1. Lots of Sunscreen
- Recommend a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or greater
- Ideally it should be water-resistant, but should be reapplied after swimming or sweating
- They should apply sunscreen for 20-30 minutes prior to going into the sun
- Remember it takes about 1 ounce (30 mL) to cover all the exposed areas, most people will need multiple bottles of sunscreen to protect them for a resort vacation
For more information see Sunscreen FAQ from the Canadian Dermatology Association.
2. Insect Repellant
- Many travel-related conditions such as zika, malaria, dengue and chikungunya are transmitted through the bites of mosquitoes carrying the virus
- Insect repellants can reduce the risk of these conditions
- Repellents that contain DEET (20-30%) or icaridin (20%) should be the first choice for adults
- Repellents that contain icaridin (20%) should be the first choice for children aged six months to twelve years. Repellents containing age-appropriate concentrations of DEET should be considered as a second choice for children aged six months to twelve years.
- If biting is noted before the re-application interval indicated on the label has expired, reapply repellent.
- Sunscreen is applied first, wait 15 minutes to allow it to penetrate the skin and then insect repellent is applied
For more information see CATMAT’s Statement on Personal Protective Measures to Prevent Arthropod Bites or the Yellow Book’s Protection against Mosquitoes, Ticks, & Other Arthropods
3. Treatment for Travellers’ Diarrhea
Travellers’ diarrhea (TD) is the most common travel-related illness for resort travellers. We are going to spend a whole post on traveller’s diarrhea, but things I would want every traveller to bring are:
- Rehydration tablets
- Antibiotics for severe diarrhea
Prevention is the key for TD and we will cover it in our full post on travellers’ diarrhea next week.
4. Travel Health Kit
- A travel health kit is designed to be able to manage any minor condition while away from home.
- Many travellers think that there is a local pharmacy is always readily available, this is not the case in most common resort destinations
- Having basic first-aid supplies, and medication for a cold, headache, allergic reaction can prevent a minor illness from ruining a holiday.
The Travel.gc.ca website has a great list of items to consider for a travel health kit.
5. Medications in Their Original Containers
- Many patients forget or stop their chronic medication during travel
- Patients should take their medication in their original medication bottles when crossing the border. Many people have had issues when they have tried to save luggage space by putting all their loose pills in a plastic bag.
- If the patient has a large bottle, pharmacists can consider printing an additional label on a smaller bottle to make it easier to pack
- Tell patients to bring an additional week of medications for resort travel. It is better to come home with extra pills, than to be short if any travel issues occur
- People with diabetes are exempt and can carry fluids > 100 mL on the plane. See CATSA’s site for information on diabetic supplies
- It is important for people with complex medications or devices to get to the airport early to allow extra time for additional security screening
If you want to learn more, review What you can Bring on a plane.