From summer penis to fat ankles… how the heatwave affects your body

HAVE you been sweating buckets since the heatwave began?

The soaring temperatures across the UK can cause some rather unpleasant side effects.

Britain is baking on some of the hottest days in history, and yesterday a ‘blowtorch’ scorched the nation with temperatures of up to 36C.

The heatwave is here to stay for the weekend and will remain into Monday and Tuesday next week.

Last year, the country was buzzing with the news that summer penis is an actual thing – more of a bizarre and somewhat welcome phenomenon for most men.

Then there is the pain of chub rub and unsightly fat ankles.


But there are more serious conditions you need to watch out for, including heat stroke and dehydration, as the heatwave continues.

Here's how the heat affects your body…

1. Fat ankles

An unfortunate side-effect of getting too hot it swelling – and your ankles seem to cop the brunt of it.

When we are hot our blood vessels expand to allow the blood to flow closer to the surface of the skin.

This is our body's way of cooling our blood down.

But, naturally, if our blood vessels expand so do other areas of the body.

As your ankles, and feet, are supporting your weight all day and have very little fat and muscle between the skin and blood vessels, you may notice them swelling.

The heat also causes our body to try and hold onto as much fluid as it can to prevent dehydration.

Fluid retention tends to be more visible in usually skinny areas like your ankles.

2. Summer penis

On the subject of expanding blood vessels, you may have heard men reap an unlikely reward from the heat.

Summer penis refers to a man's pride and joy appearing bigger in the heat.

It's essentially the opposite of what happens when you're cold.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinical director of, told The Sun Online: "Technically when you're hot, as well as when you are excited, then your blood vessels may expand.

"When blood vessels on the surface are a bit bigger then things are going to look a bit bigger.

"But your penis is not growing, it's just your blood vessels growing slightly larger as a way to reduce heat.

"And no, it's not going to make you perform better either – when you are erect your penis is swollen to the max anyway."

3. Chafing

We've all had chafing at some point, so we all know the pain.

It can occur anywhere on your body, but the thighs, groin, underarms and even your nipples are particularly vulnerable.

Chafing is an irritation of the skin caused by repetitive friction.

It's particularly prevalent in the summer because your skin it hot and sweaty, causing it to stick together when you move.

Between your thighs is one of the most common places it occurs in the warmer weather.

That's not the only thing women have to contend with.

There's also underboob sweat, bra chafing and the struggle to find clothes that don't show your sweat marks.

Luckily, there are multiple creams you can buy at your local pharmacy to help ease the burn.

PrettyLittleThing even came up with a bizarre way to avoid chub rub – anti-chafing bands and they sold out fast!

4. Eczema

Like those plagued with the itchy skin condition need anything else to add to their woes – but the hot weather can make eczema worse.

That's because the heat can dry out the skin and cause the condition to become even more inflamed.

Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists explained: "Like anything that further dries out the skin, hot weather can be a problem for eczema sufferers.

"Eczema is a condition that causes dry, itchy skin and a disrupted skin barrier, meaning the skin loses moisture more easily than healthy skin and is more prone to irritants.

"Sweating can also make eczema worse, as the sodium in sweat causes the irritated skin to sting.

"Try to wear loose, breathable fabrics to stay cool, and use emollients regularly to help stop the skin drying out too much."

5. Sweating

There's no escaping the fact you will sweat when it's hot, so you may as well just embrace it….while wearing deodorant, of course!

You may think it's gross, but it is actually your body's way of regulating your temperature.

Sweating has an important health role as it helps keep us cool.

despite what you might think, sweat doesn't actually smell.It's only when it is mixed with bacteria on our skin that it starts to give off that pungent body odour scent.

Making sure you wash regularly and wear deodorant can help reduce your very own natural perfume.

Here's six ways you can stop yourself sweating in the heatwave.


  • Look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions
  • Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
  • Drink plenty of water as sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks can make you more dehydrated
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm
  • Take care and follow local safety advice, if you are going into the water to cool down
  • Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat, if you have to go out in the heat
  • Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day
  • Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes
  • Make sure you take water with you if you are travelling

6. Asthma

Hot weather can trigger potentially deadly asthma attacks in some sufferers.

It's not entirely clear why, but one theory is that breathing in hot air can cause the airways to narrow, leading to coughing and shortness of breath.

Dr Andy Whittamore, GP and clinical lead at Asthma UK, said: "The hot weather can trigger asthma symptoms in some people, increasing their risk of having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.

"People with asthma need to be on high alert as their airways may already be inflamed from high levels of pollen, which is a trigger for around 3.3 million people in the UK with asthma.

"Heat and pollen can be a dangerous combination, so it’s really important that people with asthma continue to take their medicines as prescribed, and carry their reliever inhaler with them at all times."

Hay fever and asthma are closely linked, with around 80 per cent of people with asthma finding their symptoms are made worse when pollen counts are high.

Sonia Munde, nurse manager at Asthma UK, said: "People who have asthma and a pollen allergy should take hay fever medicines, such as antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays, and make sure they take their preventer inhaler as prescribed for the best chance of staying well."

What should you do?

  • carry your reliever inhaler (usually blue) at all times  and keep taking your preventer inhaler
  • don't leave your inhaler in direct sunlight or anywhere it can get too hot as this can stop them working
  • manage your hay fever if the pollen count is high
  • avoid exercising outdoors in the hottest part of the day – between 11am and 3pm
  • drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • when indoors keep windows and doors closed

7. Heatstroke

Heat stroke is a potentially life-threatening side effect of enjoying the glorious weather.

Sitting out in the sun for too long can cause the body to overheat and trigger heat stroke.

It happens when someone gets so hot their body can't control their temperature.

It's much less common than sunburn, and is very serious…you must get medical help straight away if you suspect a loved one is suffering it.

A person with heat stroke may have:

  • hot, flushed and dry skin
  • a headache, feel dizzy or be confused and restless
  • get worse quickly and become unresponsive

8. Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion happens when someone loses too much fluid and salt, from sweating buckets in the hot conditions.

Signs you, or your child, are suffering include:

  • feeling dizzy or confused
  • complaining of a headache
  • sweating
  • pale, cool skin
  • feeling nauseous

9. Dehydration

When the hot weather hits it's important to remember to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Dehydration happens when someone loses more fluid than they take in, especially if it’s really hot and sweaty outside.

How to spot dehydration:

  1. headaches and light headedness
  2. dry mouth, eyes and lips
  3. passing only small amounts of dark urine
  4. muscle cramps

If you spot someone is dehydrated make sure you give them plenty of water to drink, try using rehydration fluids to replace any electrolytes lost, encourage them to rest and call for medical help if their symptoms don't improve.

10. Fainting

The heat can also cause people to become light headed and faint – causing them to fall to the ground.

Fainting happens because, for a moment, there is not enough blood flowing to the brain.

People often faint as a reaction to pain, exhaustion, hunger, or emotional stress.

It is also common for people to faint after they have been standing or sitting still for a long period of time, especially if they’re feeling hot.

Signs to look out for:

  1. there may be a brief loss of response, often causing them to fall to the ground
  2. they may have a slow pulse
  3. they may have pale, cold skin and sweating

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