Those of us with sensitive skin are familiar with the ways in which cold, dry conditions can cause irritation and other skin problems. On the flip side, though, the warm weather found during summer can also take a toll on your skin, albeit via different mechanisms. Indeed, you might experience more rashes and hives during summer than any other time of year. If you’d rather avoid these issues this summer, it helps to know how and why summer conditions can trigger and exacerbate rashes, which we’ll discuss here.
Many types of plants peak during summer. Couple this fact with the additional urge to get outdoors and you run the risk of coming into contact with hazardous flora such as poison ivy, poison oak, and sumac. The vast majority of people are allergic to these plants, which contain a resin known as urushiol. When this oily resin hits the skin, it can quickly cause irritation, itchiness, burning sensations, and other symptoms commonly found in an allergy rash. Of course, these plants aren’t the only environmental factors that can trigger an allergic dermal response. Some people are allergic to the sun itself and may break out in a rash, blisters, or hives when exposed to certain levels of sunlight. Taking certain medications can also make one’s skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays and trigger such a response.
Then there’s heat rash. This type of skin rash can occur at any time of year, but it’s most common in hot and humid weather. A heat rash forms when your sweat ducts are clogged, trapping heat inside the skin. If you wear tight clothing, exercise often, and/or use skincare products that clog pores, you’re more likely to develop heat rashes.
You don’t need to have a sun allergy to end up with a sun-induced rash. Sun damaged skin comes in many forms, such as tans, sunburns, discoloration, solar lentigines, actinic keratoses, and more. The bottom line is this: if your skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays for extended periods of time, it will react in some way. Some will experience itchy rashes following their fun in the sun. While sun-induced rashes can occur during any season, these outcomes are more likely during summer when people are outside more and eagerly expose their skin.
Individuals with eczema can experience inflamed, dry, itchy skin at varied intervals, usually triggered by something in their environment. The sun may be one of these triggers (i.e., photosensitive eczema). Additionally, an existing eczema outbreak can be worsened by the harsh sun.
If you’re like most people, you want to steer clear of irritable skin year-round, but summer is by far the last time you want to deal with these problems. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to keep your skin smooth and healthy all summer long. First and foremost, wear a quality sunscreen (30+ SPF) each and every day, especially if you plan on spending time outside. Wear protective clothing, too, like sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, and comfortable clothing when possible. Try to stay in shady spots when outdoors as well. Additionally, work with your dermatologist to determine which environmental factors might trigger your rashes and other skin issues so you can more easily avoid them. Also ask your doctor if any medications you’re currently taking may be making your skin more sensitive to sunlight. And finally, ask them about rash treatment options that are right for your skin type. They might recommend or prescribe products like antihistamines, steroid creams, or creams/ointments that alleviate itchiness, pain, and other symptoms.
Don’t let itchy, irritated skin stop you from soaking up summer fun. The experts at Premier Dermatology Partners are here to help you find the best solutions for your skincare needs every season. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.