With the arrival of summer, many of us head outdoors — fun in the sun, water recreation, camping, and hiking. Yet summer fun, and summer sun, can mean a variety of summer skin problems.
Here are some common summer skin problems, along with tips for prevention and treatment.
If sweat glands become blocked, perspiration accumulates under the skin and is not able to evaporate. This leads to small, itchy, red, or clear bumps (heat rash). There are a variety of things that can contribute to the blockage of sweat glands, including humid climates, overheating, certain types of fabrics, medications, and heavy creams or ointments.
The best treatment for heat rash is to cool the skin. Cool compresses work well in treating heat rash. Once the skin is cool, sweat glands open up and the rash will clear. You can help prevent heat rash by giving your skin a chance to cool down regularly, and wearing clothing that “breathes” and doesn’t trap moisture.
Fungal infections like athlete’s foot and jock itch are caused by the ringworm fungus which thrives in dark, moist, warm environments. While these infections aren’t serious, they do cause an extreme amount of discomfort.
Your best bet in preventing fungal infections is to control the environment, which means keeping the skin as clean and dry as possible. It helps to always wear fabrics that “breathe well” during the hot summer months, and when you get hot and sweaty, change out of sweaty clothes (including socks) as soon as you can. Absorbent powder applied to sweat-prone areas can help keep your skin dry.
If you do develop a fungal infection, it’s a good idea to see your doctor for a treatment that will fully clear the problem.
Sun and Water Problems
Sun and water — the top two classic components of summer — take their toll on the skin in a short amount of time.
The chlorine from pool water is harsh on both skin and hair. A good rinse after swimming is recommended, and always follow up with a good moisturizer for your skin.
And, of course, sunscreen is the absolute best way to protect your skin in the summer. Use a sunblock with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 (higher is better), and don’t limit the sunscreen to exposed areas of the skin, either. Loosely woven fabrics like cotton will still let the sun’s rays through, so full coverage with sunscreen is a good idea.
Outdoor fun, unfortunately, also means you’re sharing space with the forces of nature, like insects. For the most part, insects are mostly an annoyance but are a serious risk for individuals with an allergy to certain bug bites.
If you have a family history of anaphylaxis, or if you’ve ever experienced a negative reaction to an insect sting or a penicillin injection, it’s wise for you to have an epi-pen on hand. Epi is the shortened name for epinephrine, an injectable form of adrenaline that will immediately reverse an allergic reaction. If you think you’re at risk, keeping an epi-pen on hand when you’re outdoors is wise. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Other bites and stings that may require medical attention are certain spider bites, fire ant bites in those who are highly allergic, and, of course, snake bites. Mosquitoes are carriers of the West Nile virus, so those annoying mosquito bites can potentially be a more serious risk.
Emergi-Care is a fully licensed, freestanding emergency care clinic in Houston, Texas, providing the Clear Lake and NASA area community with a convenient alternative to overcrowded hospitals. Learn more at www.emergicare.net.