While most people associate the skin issues with the cold, dry air of winter, summer can be just as problematic for the condition of your skin. With more sun exposure, increased sweating, frequent time spent outdoors in close proximity to allergens and more trips to the pool or beach, summer can bring a host of challenges to maintaining your skin’s health. Learn some of these common summer skin woes and some ways to remedy and refresh your skin.
Dry, aggravated skin isn’t just the territory of cold weather. Your skin can get dried out after you’ve been in air conditioning, out in the sun, and in water treated with chemicals, such as in pools. This is especially true if you’re prone to eczema or dermatitis. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to avoid dry and irritated skin in the summer months. Be sure to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day. You should do this year round, but this is especially important in times when you are outside more. Preventing sun damage will also prevent dry, irritated skin. Many sunscreens are dual-purpose, containing both a moisturizer and sun protection. Using this kind of dual-purpose lotion will help keep your skin moisturized without multiple layers of skin products that can clog your pores and create more skin problems. Another way to keep your skin from drying out is to bathe right after getting out of the pool or other chemically-treated water. Don’t bathe for a long time or in hot water -- both of these dry out the skin. Use a gentle soap and moisturize after getting out of the shower or bath when your skin is still damp. Also, if you are in a place where you can control the thermostat, try turning it up a bit to reduce the effects of air conditioning on skin.
For someone prone to acne breakouts, summer often brings more skin irritation. The heat of summer brings on more sweat, which combines with the oils and bacteria on the surface of the skin and clogs pores. As much as possible, don’t let sweat stay on your skin. Use a towel to blot off sweat -- don’t wipe because that further irritates the skin. Wash clothes and other exercise apparel before wearing it again. Wear non-comedogenic make-up. This refers to products that don’t have pore-clogging ingredients and might be labeled “oil free.” Lightweight cosmetic products like tinted moisturizers are better than using thicker products that are often labeled “long-lasting.” You can help keep your pores unclogged by using gentle cleansers like foaming soaps and doing gentle exfoliation so as to not irritate your skin.
Folliculitis happens when the follicles that your hairs grow out of become inflamed from a bacterial or viral infection. An infected follicle looks like a pimple and feels itchy and tender. Usually folliculitis involves a cluster of bumps and often happens when you’ve been in a hot tub or heated pool where the pH and chlorine levels are regulated well, causing bacteria to grow in the water. This common type of folliculitis is dubbed “hot tub folliculitis.” The best way to avoid getting hot tub folliculitis is to only spend time in hot tubs and heated pools that you know are well-treated with the proper chemicals. If you do get hot tub folliculitis, you will need to see a doctor for medication to clear up the infection. You can also get folliculitis from wearing tight-fitting clothing that traps heat and sweat. In the hot summer months, try to wear loose-fitting clothing as much as possible. And change out of clothes that have tight bands or a tight-fit as soon as you can, especially if they are work-out clothes that you have sweated in.
Getting a sunburn causes short term discomfort and more serious long term damage such as the premature aging of your skin and an increased chance of developing skin cancer.The best approach to sunburns is to prevent getting them in the first place by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapplying every two hours, staying in the shade and wearing protective clothing like long sleeves and pants and a broad-brimmed hat. However, if you do get a sunburn, there are some ways to provide relief to your irritated skin. Aloe vera gel and cold compresses can soothe the sting of a burn. Taking a short, cool shower and applying moisturizer to your still-damp skin is also soothing. Make sure to hydrate when you have a sunburn, as the burn will draw fluids out of your body. You can take nonsteroidal anti inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce your skin’s inflammation and to help with the discomfort. And of course, avoid being in the sun so that your skin can properly heal.
If you’re doing yardwork or if outdoor activities are a part of your summertime fun, you might come into contact with a poisonous plant, like poison oak, ivy or sumac. As the plant’s oil from the leaves, stems or roots comes into contact with your skin, it can cause a rash with redness, fluid-filled blisters, itching and swelling. If you’re aware that you’ve just come into contact with one of these poisonous plants, immediately wash your skin with warm water and soap. If you develop a rash that isn’t too severe, it will go away on its own in 2-3 weeks and can be treated with home remedies. Remember that the rash doesn’t spread from the fluid in the blisters, and that you can’t pass the rash to someone else unless the plant’s oil on your skin rubs off on their skin. You may find relief from cool compresses and taking baths in cool water with an oatmeal-based product, like Aveeno. You can take an oral antihistamine like Benadryl to help with the itching and to help you sleep. Applying a corticosteroid cream or calamine lotion may also relieve the itchiness of your skin rash. Try not to scratch the blisters so they don’t become infected. You can cover them with bandages or clothing to help you remember not to scratch and wear light-cotton weight gloves at night so you don’t scratch when you’re sleeping.
Call Vanguard Dermatology at one of their offices in the greater New York City area. The board-certified dermatologists at Vanguard can assist you with any of your skin care needs, including your annual skin cancer check, cosmetic skin concerns and any skin conditions that need treatment.