Summer Skin Issues

Summer is a time to relax and recharge, but for the skin it can mean trouble. Sunburn, rashes, insect bites and acne are all on the rise in the summer. Here are a few tips to keep summer skin looking its best.

Posted on | Elizabeth Tanzi, MD | Comments ()

Summer is a time to relax and recharge, but for the skin it can mean trouble. Sunburn, rashes, insect bites and acne are all on the rise in the summer. Here are a few tips to keep summer skin looking its best.


Sunburn

Even one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles the risk of the life-threatening skin cancer, melanoma, later in life. The best treatment for sunburn is to prevent it by using a broad-spectrum (blocks both UVA and UVB rays) of at least SPF 30 and reapply every 2-3 hours when in the sun and immediately after swimming or sweating. Creams, lotions and gels offer much better protection than spray sunscreens due to more thorough coverage. Hats and sunglasses are also a must to protect ears and eyes. If you get sunburned, the best treatment is a cool compress (like a washcloth in cool water), a light moisturizer, and 400 mg of ibuprofen with a meal to help reduce inflammation. Replace lost fluids with water or sports drinks.


Acne

Heat and humidity can lead to increased oil production in the skin and sweating through makeup and sunscreen can clog pores. The result? More acne breakouts in the summer. When the hot weather starts, acne-prone skin will benefit from adding glycolic or salicylic-acid containing products to the regimen. Cleansers, toners, and light moisturizers with these ingredients will help keep the skin exfoliated and reduce pore-clogging debris. Reduce exercise-induced breakouts by cleansing skin both before and after working out.


Rashes and insect bites

Poison ivy, allergic reactions to a new sunscreen, insect bites….ugh! In my practice, I see people with itchy summer skin on a daily basis. Fortunately, many people can manage their skin problems at home. For insect bites, 1% hydrocortisone cream is helpful and easily found at the local pharmacy without a prescription. Definitely try not to pick at bug bites because they can become infected. Poison Ivy (or Oak or Sumac) can be a much bigger issue to tackle depending on the extent of exposure. If you think you’ve come in contact with poison ivy, first wash your skin and clothes thoroughly to remove the oily residue that causes the itch. If you have a dog, wash him too because he could be spreading it to you! If the rash that develops is in a small area, then 1% hydrocortisone is all that’s needed. However, if the rash covers a large area of the body, call your doctor for a prescription cream.

Blog written by Elizabeth Tanzi, MD
Dr. Tanzi, Co-Director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, DC, is an internationally...