Rashes on the body are never any fun to deal with, but rashes from being out in the sun during warm spring months are even more of a bummer. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent sun- and heat-related rashes -- without cancelling all of your springtime plans.
There are a few types of rashes that tend to show up around warm and sunny springtime. One of the most common is heat rash. This type of rash appears when the sweat glands, also known as pores, become clogged due to excess sweat. Heat rash -- which is medically termed miliaria and informally called prickly heat -- can have a slight itching or burning sensation. Typically, symptoms range from small, bumpy blisters to red welts.
Sun-related skin rashes vary in severity. Sunburn is probably the most widely known skin rash resulting from exposure to sunlight. While it may seem uncomfortable and non-threatening, sunburn can actually be quite serious. This is because intense or continued exposure to the UV rays from sunlight can cause skin cancers like melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). These growths often start as spots or moles, and it’s vital that you go to a dermatologist as soon as possible upon seeing one.
Finally, there is unfortunately, such a thing as an allergy to the sun. This condition is known as polymorphic light eruption, or PMLE. PMLE manifests as a red, blotchy rash, occasionally with bumps. This type of skin rash usually occurs early on in the season, when a person’s sun exposure is just beginning and tapers off as the season and the exposure progress. However, for some severe cases, medication will be required on a long-term basis.
If you’re frequently dealing with heat rash, rethink strenuous physical activity when it’s warm out. Instead, opt to exercise in an air conditioned gym or home if possible. Always hydrate with plenty of fluids and wear loose-fitting clothing when exercising. Heat rash generally goes away on its own within a few hours to a few days, but you can cool your body down in a cold, air conditioned room or in front of a fan. A cool bath or shower can also help. Don’t use any products, like lotions or oils, that could further block the pores.
If you’re suffering from polymorphic light eruption, skincare for sun damage means using an OTC steroid cream like hydrocortisone to stop the itching or an OTC oral antihistamine, which can help curb the allergic reaction. Cold compresses on the affected area can help. Avoid scratching the irritated skin. See a dermatologist if you get frequent sun poisoning, as they can put you on a medication formulated to prevent it.
Remember to always wear sunscreen with a minimum of 30-50 SPF. This will help protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays. You can also wear long sleeves or a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin while outside.
If you’re in the greater New York City area and are struggling with a sun-related rash or have found a suspicious-looking mole, contact Vanguard Dermatology today for an appointment right away. Our team of board-certified specialists can diagnose and treat the issue before it becomes more serious.