How to help prevent and soothe 4 common summertime skin problems

November 26, 2014

Whether you're travelling on vacation or chilling at the local pool, here are some practical hints to help prevent and soothe the symptoms of four common skin problems that tend to strike during the summer months.

How to help prevent and soothe 4 common summertime skin problems

1. Heat rash

Intense heat will sometimes result in heat rash. This skin problem is characterized by pinkish and itchy blisters caused by clogged sweat ducts.

  • To prevent this problem, wear clothing made of lightweight, breathable material.
  • Most heat rashes will eventually go away after a few days, but to provide some relief you should minimize your exposure to sunlight, apply cold compresses to the affected area or take a cool bath.

Try not to scratch the affected area as popping these small blisters may leave the skin underneath feeling raw and aggravated.

  • Try dabbing calamine lotion on the itchy area to help reduce the irritation.

2. Sunburn

Too much exposure to the sun's UV rays can potentially cause redness, pain and swelling of the skin. Symptoms of a sunburn usually appear immediately following prolonged exposure to the sun. Typically, they may take a couple of days or even weeks to heal and disappear.

  • To prevent sunburn, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen as per instructions on the label, and avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • To relieve the pain of mild sunburns, apply moisturizing lotion, drink plenty of water and cool the skin by applying a cold compress or having a cool bath.
  • For extremely severe sunburns, don't pop any blisters that may form or peel skin. You should seek immediate medical attention from a licensed healthcare professional.

3. Fungal infections

Tinea versicolor and athlete's foot are two common fungal infections prevalent during summer. Why summer? Because they thrive in dark, humid locations hidden under clothing.

  • Symptoms of tinea versicolor include tan, scaly patches on the skin.
  • Symptoms for athlete's foot are cracked, flaky skin between the toes and intense itching.

The best way to help prevent these conditions is to rinse or take a bath after a hot day and keep the affected area dry.

  • To treat these infections, apply topical antifungal cream, lotion and soap. Most are available over the counter at your local pharmacy.
  • If infections are recurring or seem to become progressively worse, see a dermatologist for more comprehensive treatment. Constant scratching of the itchy area can potentially break the skin. In turn, you might become susceptible to secondary skin infections.

4. Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an allergic response that occurs when skin comes into contact with an allergen.

  • Poison ivy, poison oak and flowers like daffodils, lavender and chrysanthemum are some culprits that may cause blistering, swelling and itching of the skin to occur.

To reduce the risk of getting contact dermatitis, whenever you go hiking, camping or plan to be outside, steer clear of tall grasses and familiarize yourself with what poison ivy and other allergens look like.

  • Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams can be used to help treat this problem.

As with other skin irritations, too much scratching can break the skin's surface and leave you open to developing bacterial infections.

  • For rashes that are extensive and cover a large portion of your body, you'll want to see a doctor immediately to ensure your condition doesn't worsen.

Summer is a wonderful time of year to be carefree and indulge in fun under the sun. It also happens to be the main season when skin problems can appear. With a few simple precautions, you can potentially avoid these common summertime skin issues. As with any health issue, if ever you have concerns you should always seek advice from a certified healthcare professional.

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