Although skin problems occur year-round, most of them seem to take place during the summer months. Summer fashions expose more skin, and allergens are more active in the summer. Following are four skin problems that occur more frequently during the summer and what you can do about them.
One of the most common skin conditions that affects people of all ages during the summer is heat rash. Heat rash is characterized by small, itchy bumps on the surface of the skin. They are more likely to be found in skin folds or areas of the skin that regularly come into contact with tight clothing, such as the skin around the waist and neck.
- Minimize your chances of developing heat rash by wearing light, loose clothing in breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen.
- Avoid heavy lotions and creams because they may cause the condition to worsen by clogging your sweat glands.
- If the rash lasts more than 3 days and doesn't seem to be getting better, a visit to the dermatologist is in order.
Red, bumpy rashes and extreme itching occur when the bare skin is exposed to the oils in the leaves and stems of the plant known as of poison ivy. Symptoms generally begin to occur 12 to 72 hours after exposure and can last for up to three weeks. If you are aware that your skin has come into contact with a poison ivy plant, washing the area thoroughly may help reduce the severity of the reaction, and in some cases, may circumvent it entirely if you catch it in time.
- Over-the-counter topical hydrocortisone cream can bring swelling down and help the rash to heal faster.
- Cold compresses and calamine lotion may help relieve extreme itchiness.
- An oral antihistamine may make it easier for you to sleep.
If the rash lasts for more than three weeks or shows signs of infection, consult your dermatologist. You should also strongly consider seeking professional care if the rash covers more than 20 percent of your body.
Athlete's foot is another condition that occurs more often during the summer when the atmosphere is hot and humid. It's also contagious, and if you spend time at public swimming pools or beach changing rooms, you may inadvertently expose the bottoms of your feet to this fungal pathogen. Athlete's foot can also happen as a result of wearing tight, closed shoes during hot weather because your feet produce excess sweat when exposed to high temperatures. Itchy, peeling skin, particularly between the toes, is the primary symptom of athlete's foot.
- Over-the-counter anti-fungal creams may be effective in reducing symptoms of athlete's foot.
- If symptoms persist or worsen after trying over-the-counter products for several weeks, see your dermatologist about the possibility of using a prescription-strength cream.
You can lessen your chances of getting athlete's foot by wearing shoes in breathable fabrics such as cotton canvas or by wearing sandals. Always make certain that you've got adequate foot protection such as shower sandals or flip flops whenever you visit public swimming pools, bathhouses, or beach changing rooms.
Hives are raised, red, itchy welt-like lesions that cover the entire body. They have a variety of causes, including
- Allergies to pet dander, foods, or certain plant pollens.
- Exposure to heat.
- Excessive sweating.
Certain types of hives are more likely to occur during the summer months when allergens are more active. Mild cases should disappear on their own within several hours, and itching can be calmed by taking an over-the-counter antihistamine. If hives don't respond to antihistamines, you may wish to consult a dermatologist in order to rule out more serious causes. You should seek immediate medical attention if hives are accompanied by shortness of breath, swelling of face or throat, and fainting or dizziness. These could indicate a life-threatening allergic reaction that often is the result of bee stings or eating shellfish.
For more information, contact a local dermatology clinic.