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Helpful Hints and Advice

Helpful hints and advice

Moving abroad and holidaying abroad can be fraught with dangers with sunburn being at the top of the list. Gran Canaria is no exception. Many issues and health problems crop up time and again so we have teamed up with the British Medical Clinic based in Puerto Rico and Nurse Mary has written a few guidelines and helpful hints to help with a few of the most common problems.


Don't forget your suntan lotionWhen the sun comes out or you start your holidays it is very tempting to cram a years worth of sun into 2 weeks. Unfortunately this is most likely to end in frazzled tempers and bodies. By taking sensible precautions much of this can be reduced.

  • Slip on a T-shirt.
  • Make sure the children wear hats that protect their heads, faces and necks.
  • Use a high factor sunblock – at least factor 15 or 25 if you have fair skin.

Apply the cream before you leave your apartment and reapply every hour or so and after swimming. Remember the old adage 'mad dogs and englishmen'?

Take the advice of the locals - go into the shade, have a long lunch and a siesta, in the middle of the day. If you do get burnt, cool the area by sponging with cool water. Put on after sun cream or Aloe Vera.

  • Don't go out in the sun.
  • Don't pop any blisters.
  • Take paracetamol for the pain.

See the doctor for advice if it doesn’t improve or if it is over a large area.

Hangover and alcohol intoxication

Drink in moderationHangovers are a result of the effects of alcohol and its waste products. Alcohol causes excess loss of fluid and so cause’s dehydration. This leads to headache, thirst, nausea, vomiting and tiredness. Most alcoholic drinks contain a mixture of 2 different alcohols- Ethanol and methanol. Drinks high in methanol like brandy and rum produce worse hangovers. Gin and Vodka based drinks have more ethanol and are less likely to cause hangovers.

What you can do:-

  • Know your limit. Most hangovers are caused by drinking more than your body can tolerate and allowing yourself to become dehydrated.
  • Avoid drinks with high methanol content.
  • Try to eat something - bread, pasta, rice – before drinking.
  • If you cannot eat, drink a large glass of water (500ml) before you start.
  • Alternate alcohol with water – match each drink with 300ml (3/4 pint) of water.
  • Before you go to bed try and drink as much water as you think you have drunk alcohol and then 2-3 glasses more. That might seem a lot but its worth it, if you can manage it.
  • Take a bottle of water to bed and drink more water if you wake in the night.

Mosquito Bites

Avoid these pesky insectsMosquitos on the island of Gran Canaria do not carry malaria but they can cause unpleasant reactions. Seek medical advice if an insect bite causes swelling, bruising or persistent pain. To try and prevent being bitten in the first place:

  • Cover up at dusk and dawn – wear long sleeve T shirts and trousers, especially if you seem to get bitten more than most.
  • Keep the windows shut, particularly when you have lights on in the evening in your hotel room or apartment.
  • Spray your room with a mosquito repellent. Follow the instructions on the packaging carefully. There are many types of room repellent available. Use the one that suits you.
  • Wear repellent on your skin, making sure you use an appropriate repellent for children, asthma sufferers and pregnant women if you fall into one of these categories. Always check the labels, and if you cannot understand, ask a farmacist.
  • Don’t use aftershave, perfumes or scented deodorants – they’re mosquito magnets.


Better to be safe than sorryEveryone wants to have a good time on their holidays BUT please take care. Herpes, Chlamydia, hepatitis B, AIDS exist here, just like everywhere else. Use a condom in addition to your normal contraception. They are readily available from all the chemists, garages and many bars.

If you find a sore or have an unusual discharge in your nether regions – be honest with yourself. Go and see the doctor and get treatment as soon as possible.

Swim safety

According to the Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents, during the school holidays and in hot weather, children are at a greater risk of drowning. Parents and guardians are more relaxed and normal routines change when they are holiday.

Please don’t lose your guard.

On the beach or by the hotel pool, make sure the children are supervised at all times Inflatable arm bands and other swimming aids are to help your child with swimming confidence and are not there to replace adult supervision.

Tummy upsets/Diarrhoea

No one wants to get diarrhoea, when you are on holiday or when it might affect your work. Just try and remember these rules: Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it.

To try and prevent this spoiling your holiday, try and follow this advice.

Avoid the following:

Salads – the water the salad may have been washed in may upset your stomach.
Uncooked vegetables – same applies as for salad.
Undercooked or raw meat (especially chicken and pork) fish and shellfish – bacteria can only be killed by thorough cooking.
Cooked food that has been allowed to stand for hours – a warm environment is heaven for the development of bacteria, which can reach dangerous levels very quickly.

Drinking water

Don’t use the water directly from the tap or if you have to, make sure it is boiled for at least 5 minutes. Buy bottled water. If you order water in a restaurant make sure you see the waiter open a fresh bottle for you. Avoid using ice unless you know it is safe. When in doubt, stick with drinks such as tea or coffee, fizzy bottled water and soft drinks. Use still bottled water for cleaning your teeth, cuts and grazes and for sterilising your contact lenses.

If you do develop diarrhoea and/or sickness, then contact a doctor as soon as possible.

Travelling with babies

Disposable nappies are available here in most of the supermarkets but they can be expensive. We would advise taking as many as you think you will need, split up the packs and spread them around your cases. Then you only need to buy some in Spain as back up. Baby wipes are very similar to those you would find in the UK.

Baby Milk is sold mainly in the farmacias although you can find it in some larger supermarkets. Generally the brands are Nestle – premium or premium plus or Milupa. An unhappy hungry baby is not a nice companion whilst you are on holiday, so if you can bring all that you will need with you, it might make your life better. Or try a few brands before you come over and see if your child is affected. Also some airlines now would allow you to book some extra kg if you need them. So just using any extra luggage allowance may make a happier holiday. Think of the space on the way back to bring anything you buy as well!!!!!

Depending on the time of year, it is hot here. The baby wont need many clothes – often just the nappy will be enough during the day and a vest at night. Keep out of the sun and maybe go to your apartment between 11-3 – the hottest time of day – or go somewhere with air conditioning to cool you all down.

All information on this page was supplied by Mary Beresford-Jones RGN (London)
No. Colegiado 671 (Spanish nursing registration) of :-

British Medical Clinic
Avenida Tomas Roca Bosch 4
Puerto Rico 35130
Gran Canaria
Tel 0034 928 56 00 16 would like to thank the British Medical Clinic for all of the information on this page and whether you live on Gran Canaria or coming on a holiday we hope that you stay safe and manage to enjoy all the time you spend on Gran Canaria without suffering sunburn, or Diarrhoea. Enjoy your holiday, by taking the necessary precautions with contraception, hopefully never suffering from a hangover, being able to avoid, nasty mosquito bites, and being careful with the water that you choose to drink. Above all we hope that if you are travelling with babies and young children, that they stay safe and healthy and that all the information contained in this section of the website, will be, extremely helpful to you, and if you follow the advice given on contraceptives, drinking water and mosquitos e.t.c then you will thoroughly enjoy the time you spend on Gran Canaria, and want to return time and again.