June is here. The air in seacoast New Hampshire is starting to get sticky. The wet, rainy spring has given way to a more humid, sultry clime as the temperature rises and summer fully sets in. While we’re excited about it – coming off the cold, curious winter we just experienced – we also realize that it’s imperative to keep our skin health in check and to understand that with the hot summer season in full swing, potential skin related issues and irritants will undoubtedly flare up.
Here are nine common skin health issues you may experience this summer and some tips on how you can treat and/or prevent them from occurring.
1. Acne breakouts: This is one of the biggest outcomes of mixing summer and your skin. When the heat rises, you’re apt to sweat more, and when sweat mixes with bacteria and the oils on your skin, your pores clog. And when pores clog, acne happens. If you have acne-prone skin, summer generally leads to an increase in breakouts. Even if you don’t have acne prone skin, you’re more likely to experience a pimple or two in the summer months than you would at any other time during the year.
So, here are some helpful tips for preventing acne during these sticky (and tricky) months:
- Blot sweat from your skin with a clean towel or cloth. Wiping (instead of blotting) can actually irritate your skin and “wipe” existing dirt, dust, and bacteria into your pores, which can lead to a breakout.
- Be conscious of the products you use on your skin. For example, use non-comedogenic products on your face, neck, back, and chest. Look for a label that makes mention of being “oil free” or a product that “won’t clog pores.”
2. Dry, irritated skin: Dry, irritated skin: This seems a bit curious given the notion that we spend a lot of the summer “feeling the heat” – sweating, etc. But, dry skin happens. The biggest culprits of this are: spending time in the sun without proper hydration, being in a pool that introduces our skin to different chemicals that can dry out and wash away protective oils, and, of course, lounging around in air-conditioned environments.
To help prevent dry skin:
- Rinse off after stepping out of the pool.
- Apply sunscreen before going outdoors (we highly recommend utilizing a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ lotion that offers water resistance).
- Use a mild cleanser to wash your skin. Soaps and body washes labeled “antibacterial” or “deodorant” can actually dry your skin out drastically.
- Use a fragrance-free moisturizer after every shower and bath. Moisturizer benefits you by trapping water in your skin, which, of course, is an ideal combatant of dry, chapped skin. Apply it within 5 minutes of taking a shower or bath for optimal results.
3. Folliculitis: Every hair on your body grows out of an opening called a follicle. When your follicles get infected due to the introduction of dirt, dust, oil, and bacteria (much in the same way acne occurs) you develop folliculitis. Infected hair follicles look like pimples, but they tend to be itchy and tender.
Tips to prevent folliculitis:
- Change out of tight workout clothes like biking shorts, yoga pants, etc. and shower / rinse off your skin.
- Stay out of hot tubs and whirlpools if you’re unsure whether the acid and chlorine levels are properly controlled.
- Wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothes when it’s hot and humid.
4. Melasma: You know those brownish and/or grayish-brown patches on your face? Being out in the sun makes them more noticeable, much in the same way that the summer months bring out freckles on some people’s skin.
Tips to prevent melasma:
- Wearing sunscreen is an obvious first combative measure. Wear it every day and reapply every 2 hours. We also recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat when you are outside to create a “shady” barrier between those pesky UV rays and your face.
5. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac: Have you ever been exposed to poison ivy, oak, or sumac? If you have, you know the discomfort the impending rashes cause. They can be intensely itchy and in some cases, can even cause blistering.
Tips to prevent rashes due to poison ivy, oak, and sumac:
- The obvious one is to identify these plants and avoid them.
- If your rash is unbearable, come see us and we can help with a treatment.
6. Heat rash: Blocked sweat glands cause this, and it can be pretty uncomfortable. When your sweat glands are blocked, preventing sweat from properly dispersing, it builds up under your skin and causes a rash constructed of tiny, itchy bumps. When the bumps burst and release the sweat, you may get a prickly sensation on your skin – which is not exactly a desirable experience.
Tips to prevent heat rash:
- Anything you can do to stop sweating profusely will help reduce your risk.
- Wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothes made of cotton.
- Exercise outdoors during the coolest parts of the day (early morning, or at dusk) or move your workout indoors where the climate is controlled.
- Keep your skin cool by using fans, taking cool showers, and utilizing air-conditioning.
7. Sun allergy: Some of us suffer from allergic reactions to the sun at times. In these moments, we experience an allergic reaction that causes our skin to develop hives from being in the sun for too long. Sun allergies exist for myriad reasons, such as:
- Consuming certain medications
- Inherent sun sensitivity (usually runs in the family)
If you have an allergic reaction to the sun, you’ll likely see red, scaly, and extremely itchy bumps on some (or all) of your bare skin. Some people even experience blistering in extreme cases.
Tips to prevent an allergic skin reaction:
- Know your family “skin” history.
- Check your medication container to find out if it can cause an allergic reaction to the sun.
- Protect your skin from the sun by seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothes, and applying sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, water resistance, and is SPF 30+.
8. Sunburns: Ouch. Getting a sunburn is not fun. It’s painful, unpleasant, and, further, it can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. In short, it’s bad. Very bad. If you’re not taking your skin health seriously and are constantly subjecting yourself to the sun’s harmful UV rays, you increase your likelihood for further, prolonged damage down the road. A sunburn is no fun, and skin cancer can be gravely detrimental.
Tips to prevent sunburns:
- Seek shade.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeves, and pants when possible.
- Apply sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30+, and water resistance.
9. Swimmer’s itch: Also known as “clam digger’s itch,” is an itchy rash that appears after wading or swimming in lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water. It occurs when parasites in the water burrow into your skin, causing tiny red spots on areas that your swimsuit didn’t cover. Sometimes, intensely itchy welts (hives) and blisters can appear. Unpleasant to say the least.
Children are especially susceptible because they tend to stay in shallow, warmer water where these parasites tend to congregate and fester in greater numbers.
Tips to prevent swimmers itch:
- Stay out of stagnant, infested water that’s warm in temperature. When the water is infested, you may see a sign that tells you to stay out of the water, or you may hear about someone who recently developed an itchy rash after being in the water. Take the warning(s) seriously and stay away.
- Briskly rub your skin (and your child’s skin) with a towel after getting out of the water. The parasites start to burrow when the water on your skin begins evaporating not while you’re in the water, so towel off, or better yet, rinse off with fresh, clean water.
If you have any questions, or concerns stemming from any abnormalities present on your skin this summer, we’re here to help. Give us a call to learn more. Have a safe and productive summer!