We often associate dry skin with the cold winter months, but summer conditions can lead to dryness, too. Regions with hot, dry climates tend to have the worst effects on one’s skin -- the lack of moisture in the air combined with the sweltering heat of the sun act as a one-two punch that leaves the skin dehydrated and vulnerable. Even those who live in more humid regions can suffer from dry skin if out in the sun for too long, and must also guard against conditions such as heat rash, acne, fungal infection, and more.
While there’s no way to avoid every possible problem with your skin during the summer or beyond, you can at least protect your skin from harm in several ways. Let’s go over some of the best ways to prevent dryness in the summer months.
The leading cause of dry skin during the summer is ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. While moderate doses of sunlight can actually be good for one’s skin, bones, and overall health, leaving your bare skin exposed to the sun for too long can yield several negative effects, including dry skin, sunburn, and even skin cancer. The heat from the sun gradually strips unprotected skin of its moisture and natural oils. You might not notice sun damage until several hours or days after exposure, but eventually you may notice redness and inflammation, which then turns to itching, peeling, and overall dryness. Dry skin can be irritating enough on its own, but it also contributes to the formation of wrinkles.
To avoid the outcomes mentioned above, your best bet is to stay out of the sun for long periods of time. This isn’t always easy or desirable during the summer, of course. So, whenever you are outside (even if it isn’t for a long time), make sure you protect your skin with sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher is best). In addition to providing a strong defense against sun damaged skin, some sunscreens also feature moisturizing qualities and may help soothe and/or heal already-dry skin.
As important as sunscreen is, it is no replacement for a high-quality moisturizer. And if you’re seeking to avoid dry skin during the summer (or any time of year, for that matter), the importance of moisturizing cannot be overstated. Moisturizing your skin once or twice a day helps your skin retain its natural oils and soothes dried out skin. Talk to your dermatologist to find the right moisturizer(s) and routine for your skin. Generally speaking, you’ll want to use a product that contains zero irritants, features ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and/or soothing agents such as aloe vera, and fortifies the skin’s moisture barrier. For extra sun protection, look into SPF moisturizers as well.
You might think that introducing any type of water to your skin would help prevent dryness. However, taking long hot showers and baths can actually have the opposite effect. The heat from these activities can strip your skin of its natural oils. If you turn up the heat too much, stay in for too long, and/or don’t moisturize directly afterward, you may end up with a dry skin rash or generally irritated skin. Try to limit your shower time to 5-10 minutes and go with warm water as opposed to hot water. And pat your skin dry rather than rub it.
The sun may be the main culprit for dry skin during the summer, but it’s not the only one. Other environmental factors such as insect bites and contact with certain plants can also lead to various skin problems. Rubbing up against sumac or poison ivy, for instance, can trigger an allergic dermatitis response. And a mosquito or spider bite can lead to itching which can then damage the dermis and cause scabbing, infection, etc. If you plan on hiking in the great outdoors during the summer, come prepared with bug spray and wear protective clothing to minimize direct contact with these elements.
Finally, one of the best ways to keep your skin healthy and hydrated is to keep your entire body hydrated. The summer heat can quickly deplete your fluid levels, so make sure you restore them as often as possible. Staying hydrated helps flush out toxins and increases blood flow, which in turn strengthens the skin’s structure and improves its appearance.
Don’t let dry skin ruin your summer fun. If you want to show off your best skin this summer, you have to protect it from the various threats you’ll encounter while also taking care of your internal health. If you need more advice on how to do just that, Premier Dermatology Partners is here to help. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.