For most people in East Tennessee, summertime means long days by the lake, perfect hiking weather and backyard barbecues. For others, summer comes with a host of other concerns. Warmer weather and more time outdoors often brings seasonal skin problems that can make this mild season miserable for some, however, a little know-how and prevention can keep your skin shining all season long. We’ve put together a list of 5 summer skin concerns and simple tips to help you avoid the discomfort they bring.
#1: Bug Bites and Stings
There’s no way to say it nicely: Bug bites bite. The red, itchy welt caused by bites from mosquitos and other insects is actually caused by a histamine reaction and can lead to serious discomfort, along with more serious concerns like West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease.
The best way to avoid summer bug bites is to use a repellant. Dr. Doppelt recommends using bug repellents that contain DEET, picardin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. If you happen to be bitten, remember that you can treat most insect bites and stings at home. You can apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to help relieve itching and swelling. While you’re at it, it’s important to take a hands-off approach and avoid scratching the bite. Broken skin or germs hiding under your fingernail can lead to an infection. If you have a bug bite that is unusually itchy or painful or one you suspect is infected, consider calling Dr. Doppelt for treatment.
#2: Poison Rashes and Allergies
Anyone who’s had an unfortunate run-in with poison oak, poison ivy or another outdoor irritant likely knows the uncomfortable, itchy feeling caused by this prickly summer skin condition. Called contact dermatitis, this painful poison rash appears when your skin is directly exposed to an irritating substance or allergen. In most cases, contact dermatitis and poison rashes often appear quickly, in minutes or hours of exposure.
Most people can treat contact dermatitis at home. After you’ve identified what’s caused the rash, avoiding the poison is the first step towards healing. You can also apply an anti-itch cream containing hydrocortisone to relieve symptoms. Over the counter antihistamines like Benadryl can also help relieve itching. Poison rashes can last up to a month, depending on the severity of your exposure. Call Dr. Doppelt if your poison rash is so uncomfortable that it interferes with your daily life or if it doesn’t show any improvement after a week or two of at-home treatment.
#3: Athlete’s Foot
Almost everyone knows that Athlete’s Foot (also called Tinea Pedis) is a problem for more than just fitness gurus. What most folks don’t know is that this common summer skin problem is caused by a mold-like fungus that thrives in warm, dark and damp environments – like between your toes. It’s easy to pick up Athlete’s Foot around the deck of a pool or in a locker room.
Prevent Athlete’s Foot by avoiding contact with potentially infected areas. Wear rubber flip flops in locker rooms and public showers, and around the pool. Get your feet in shape and rid of Athlete’s Foot by cleansing with an anti-bacterial soap and applying an anti-fungal lotion at least twice a day. If this course of treatment isn’t effective, Dr. Doppelt can prescribe a treatment including both topical and oral antifungals.
#4: Excessive Sweating
It’s important to let loose and not sweat the small stuff in the summer. But for some people, this just isn’t possible. If you suffer from excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis, rising temperatures and humidity can turn your body into a sticky mess that you’ll feel the need to wash off constantly.
Treatments for excessive sweating include both over-the-counter and prescription options. If you’re prone to excessive sweating, you might find that an antiperspirant containing aluminum chloride might be more effective than other options. If you’re still sweating, consider seeing a doctor for other options. Prescription treatments for hyperhidrosis include things like oral medications and even Botox under the arms to “turn off” axillary sweat glands.
Your summer sweat might not be sweet to you, but it can be to bacteria. Folliculitis is a bacterial skin infection that often appears as red bumps or pustules and is commonly found on shoulders, thighs and bottoms, especially in the summer months. Wearing synthetic clothing during summer months that traps sweat against the body can cause folliculitis, especially slim-fitting items like compression garments and spandex.
If you notice these bumps, consider bathing right after a workout or other sweat-inducing activity. Additionally, washing the affected area at least twice a day with an anti-bacterial soap is often enough to treat and prevent folliculitis. More severe cases can be resolved with prescription treatments like an oral antibiotic.
Like folliculitis-causing bacteria, yeast thrives in warm, dark environments and your skin might be prone to yeast infections as the temperature rises. We have yeast on our skin year round, but summer’s warmth and the sweating it brings can set skin yeast into overdrive. Skin yeast infections, called Tinea Versicolor, are most common in hot and humid climates. Tinea Versicolor often presents itself as tan, scaly patches found on your back, chest or neck.
The best way to avoid Tinea Versicolor is to keep clean. Cool off and suds up in the shower after breaking a sweat to keep yeast at bay. If you’re prone to Tinea Versicolor, consider using a soap containing pyrithione zinc to treat and prevent future breakouts.
Above all, the most common and easily preventable summer skin condition is sunburn. Using a sunscreen daily can help you keep cool with healthy skin all season long. Take good care of your skin this summer! If you’re feeling unsure, just let Dr. Doppelt and his staff take care of all your skin care concerns.
For more year-round skincare tips, check out 5 Problems Spring Drags In For Your Skin.