Summer is officially here! Between camps, trips to the beach, and just spending a lot more time outdoors in general, there is a lot to keep track of! I’ve put together my summer skin care guide to help you treat common ailments at home, and so that you know when to see the doctor. Enjoy your summer, and as always, don’t forget the sunscreen!
Young Women Sunbathing
- Sunburn – Probably one of the most common summertime skin ailments, the sunburn. As a dermatologist, I will first preach the benefits of adequate skin protection from the sun. UV rays not only leave your skin tingling and pink, the effects of a sunburn are lasting. Overtime sunburned skin will start showing signs of aging sooner and even one sunburn leaves you more likely to get skin cancer. However, if you forgot the sunscreen or missed a spot and find yourself with a sunburn, check out my tips for managing sunburn.
- Bug bites and stings – Another very common summertime skin ailment, bug bites and stings can be frustrating! Most bug bites are harmless but some can spread dangerous diseases 9like Lyme, Zika, and malaria). Prevention is helpful – insect repellent, appropriate clothing, and bed nets for infested areas. Most bug bites and stings can be treated at home. For painful bites an over-the-counter painkiller (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) will help. Itching bites can be helped with an ice pack or over-the-counter hydrocortisone. If there is swelling, apply an ice pack. More severe symptoms that occur after a bug bite (rash, fever, or body aches) should be referred to your doctor or board-certified dermatologist immediately for treatment.
- Bed bugs – Also in the bug category but deserving its very own spot on my list is bed bugs. If you find yourself in the unlucky category of being exposed to bed bugs, wash the bites with soap and water to help prevent an infection and help reduce itch. A corticosteroid cream can help to reduce any itchiness. If you have a large number of bites or develop blisters or inflammation you should visit a board certified dermatologist for treatment. Some people will have an allergic reaction to bed bug bites or may develop an infection and require antibiotics. Knowing how to identify bed bugs is really helpful – whenever I travel I now check out the mattress as soon as I walk into a hotel room for any evidence of bed bugs! It’s also possible to bring bed bugs home with you, in which case you will need to treat your skin and your home. Check out these remedies to help rid yourself of bedbugs.
- Eczematous dermatitis – Heat, humidity and chlorine can cause contact dermatitis to flare in the warmer summer months. To avoid flare ups in the summertime be sure to:
- Rinse skin after swimming – chlorine and saltwater will dry out the skin.
- Travel with your own products. Don’t rely on hotel toiletries if you are accustomed to products that you know work well for your skin type. Even a day or two of different products can wreak havoc on your skin.
- Continue using a thick cream, even if you think a thin lotion is more comfortable when the heat and humidity strike. Thin lotions lack the humectant properties needed to protect your skin.
- If you are using topical steroids, avoid sun exposure. This is also true for oral steroids which can be photosensitizers and increase risk of a sunburn.
- Only use physical sunscreens (titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) on inflamed skin since chemical blockers can burn on cracked, inflamed skin.
- Hot Tub Folliculitis – If you’ve ever found yourself with a skin rash after using a hot tub, you likely have hot tub folliculitis, also known as hot tub rash. This is an infection in the hair follicles and can occur in any part of the body that has hair growth and is caused by a bacteria called pseudomonas that live in warm and wet areas. The rash will appear like acne and may turn into red nodules in the affected area. The nodules may have pus and cause itching or a burning sensation. Symptoms will usually appear within a few hours of coming into contact with the bacteria, up to about 3 days after. There is no treatment required for a hot tub rash and symptoms should resolve on their own in about 10 days, but if not you should see a dermatologist for anitbiotics. To prevent itching, a warm compress will help and will promote quick healing.
- Margarita Rash – Yes you read that correctly, margarita rash is a thing! Known as Phytophotodermatitis, this condition occurs when your skin comes in contact with certain substances at the same time s sunlight. Symptoms can range from mild redness to blisters and second-degree burns. As the burns begin to fade they leave behind a characteristic brown patch on the skin. The brown patches will disappear on their own over time and can be lightened with hydroquinone. A severe burn will require observation by a doctor. Limes are the most likely fruit to cause this condition but it can also be caused by carrots, parsnips, parsley, celery, figs, wild dill, lemons, and oranges. If you plan to enjoy margaritas in the sun, you can still enjoy the fresh squeezed lime juice, just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after preparation!