Your skin might have a love/hate relationship with summer. On the one hand, the summer months provide warm, sunny days that encourage outdoor activity and bare skin. On the other hand, all of this fun in the sun can leave you vulnerable to environmental threats that do your skin no favors. Of course, few people want to stay indoors all summer long. If you want to enjoy your time outside safely, it helps to know about the various problems you may face and how to prevent and treat them. So, let’s go over seven summer skin issues and how to combat them.
Discussions of sun damaged skin often revolve around sunburn. Sunburn occurs when one’s skin has been exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation for a prolonged period of time (the amount of time can range from person to person). Those with fairer skin are more susceptible to sunburn because their skin contains less melanin, the pigment cells which provide some natural protection from UV rays.
Solution: If you’re planning to spend significant time outdoors this summer (or you’re indoors and surrounded by windows), apply SPF 30+ sunscreen all over your body, especially areas that will be directly exposed to sunlight, and reapply about every 2 hours. Additionally, seek shade whenever possible and wear protective clothing (hat, light shirt and shorts, etc.). If you do get burnt, cool down your body as quickly as possible, get inside, drink water, moisturize your skin, and try not to touch the affected areas as this can cause further irritation.
Sunburn isn’t the only form of sun damage to consider, of course. Those with sensitive skin, who are taking certain medications, and/or who have certain genetic predispositions can break out in rashes and hives when exposed to the sun for a while, often on the chest and arms. Sun allergy symptoms may be more or less severe for certain individuals.
Solution: It’s important to put on SPF 30+ sunscreen and wear protective clothing if you’re susceptible to sun allergy. If you break out in rashes or hives, seek shelter and apply soothing, anti-inflammatory substances like aloe vera to the affected areas. You can also take painkillers to relieve the discomfort.
This skin condition, which leads to discoloration and splotches on one’s face, neck, chest, and/or shoulders, can be triggered by certain skincare products, hormonal changes, and also UV radiation. Therefore, melasma can severely flare up during the summer.
Solution: Melasma can be treated multiple ways. One might apply topical hydroquinone to reduce discoloration, corticosteroids to slow down cell turnover, and/or azelaic/kojic acid to brighten overall skin tone. Perhaps the most effective melasma treatment for UV-related symptoms, however, is tretinoin, which mitigates changes in skin pigment.
Summer tends to contain the hottest, most humid months out of the year. These high levels of heat and humidity make it more likely for an individual to develop heat rash, which occurs when sweat gets trapped under the skin due to some blockage of the sweat ducts. Babies tend to suffer from heat rash more often than anyone else, but adults can get it, too, especially if they’re wearing tight-fitting or heavy clothing in the hot, humid weather.
Solution: Most heat rashes subside on their own in a matter of days, and the process is sped up by moving to a cool, dry environment and allowing one’s skin to breathe.
The summer sun and heat encourage us to take part in various summer activities, such as swimming, running, playing outdoor sports, and more. Unfortunately, many of these activities can cause one to make contact with fungi (typically on one’s hands or bare feet). Locker rooms, for instance, are often breeding grounds for fungal growth. Additionally, working up a sweat while wearing shoes can lead to athlete’s foot. Most warts don’t pose serious health concerns, but they can be quite irritating and painful.
Solution: Various over-the-counter treatments can be used to treat warts and athlete’s foot. Antifungal creams like Lamisil and Lotrimin can help get rid of athlete’s foot, and salicylic acid liquids, patches, and peels can get rid of warts relatively quickly. More stubborn warts can also be killed by freezing, cauterization, electrosurgery, and laser surgery.
Acne can flare up during any season, but summertime may make matters worse for many individuals. The hot, humid weather leads to increased perspiration, which can clog pores and result in breakouts.
Solution: One of the best ways to mitigate acne outbreaks is to stay hydrated, as this will reduce the buildup of bacteria and dirt under the skin. Additionally, change clothes regularly if you sweat a lot, especially hats, headbands, and other items on or near your face. Practice good skin care by moisturizing your skin daily with water-based lotions and creams and maintain a healthy diet.
Prolonged exposure to UV radiation (whether from the sun or a tanning bed) is the leading cause of skin cancer. Therefore, most instances of skin cancer are the result of summertime fun. This unfortunate reality cannot be ignored, especially considering that the odds of developing skin cancer can be greatly reduced by taking the proper precautions.
Solution: Once again, applying sunscreen every couple of hours when outside helps block most of the sun’s harmful rays, as does wearing protective clothing and staying in the shade when possible. It’s also crucial to know the early signs of skin cancer so you can seek professional attention as soon as possible. Nonmelanoma skin cancers like basal and squamous cell carcinomas are often easily removed when caught early on, and melanoma can be treated much more easily when detected early, too.
Summer is fun, and there’s nothing wrong with spending plenty of time outdoors. Just keep in mind that this season can do a number on your skin. The more prepared you are, the better you’ll feel and the better you’ll look. The experts at Premier Dermatology Partners are happy to give you more advice on summer safety and skin care. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.