Summertime is ripe for showing off your skin and enjoying the warm outdoor air. Unfortunately, your skin might not get along with the summer season as much as you’d like. In addition to the increased risk of sun damaged skin from excessive ultraviolet (UV) exposure, summer conditions can trigger or exacerbate acne outbreaks. If you don’t want to be bummed out by breakouts this summer, it helps to know why this time of year can accelerate acne issues in the first place. So, let’s explore why acne can get worse during the summer and what you can do to combat it.
It’s no secret that heat can have harmful effects on our skin (see: heat rash), but after a long, cold winter, the summer heat is certainly welcome. However, when temperatures rise, our pores open up. As a result, we sweat more and our skin becomes more prone to environmental threats such as dirt, debris, and acne-causing bacteria. And because we tend to spend more time outside during the summer, these threats are more likely to find our skin and cause trouble. All of this ultimately amounts to clogged pores, which is the basis for an acne outbreak.
For most people, summertime involves a lot of movement from indoor to outdoor spaces -- when things get too cool, it’s great to step outside and soak up the sun, and when things get too hot, there’s no better feeling than entering an air-conditioned room. Unfortunately, this constant transition can lead to acne. This is because the sun has a keratolytic effect on the skin, which boosts up the skin’s natural renewal process. When going immediately from a sun-soaked setting to an indoor, air-conditioned space, those rejuvenating effects power down, leaving dead skin cells to linger on the skin’s surface, clogging pores.
Summer isn’t just hot, it’s also humid. High humidity levels cause us to perspire (sweat) and produce more sebum (oil). Those with more acne prone skin tend to have thicker, stickier sebum than those without acne prone skin, so when things get warm and damp, pores become more quickly and intensely clogged.
There may also be a connection between your diet and acne outbreaks, which is emphasized during the summer. If, for instance, you tend to eat more fatty, processed foods and drink sugary and/or alcoholic beverages during the summer, you may be setting your skin up for breakout after breakout. This is because certain foods can trigger and worsen acne in most individuals. And as it happens, many of these foods are regularly consumed during the summer (think burgers, hot dogs, beer, milkshakes, snack foods, chocolate, etc.).
To sum up, the summer’s high temperatures, powerful sun, high humidity, and popular foods all coalesce to create an acne-inducing environment. So, what steps can you take to minimize these negative effects on your skin? For starters, try to steer clear of oily skincare products during the summer. Wear an oil-free sunscreen (30+ SPF) each and every day to prevent sun damage. Do your best to manage your summertime diet, prioritizing fresh fruits and veggies over processed foods, meat, and dairy. And lastly, ask your dermatologist about acne treatments and skincare products (e.g., salicylic acid cleaners) if you regularly struggle with acne during summer and/or year-round.
At Premier Dermatology Partners, we help our patients find the right seasonal products and solutions for their unique skin so they can enjoy a clear, healthy, beautiful complexion all year long. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.