Bask in the sun. Take a dip in the pool. Feel the blades of grass between your toes. Summer’s long days are here to enjoy. However, some of the season’s best outdoor pastimes can wreak havoc on our skin.
Combat summer’s most pesky skin concerns with these expert tips from Dr. Jeffrey Zwerner, Senior Medical Director for Dermatology at Teladoc Health.
Redness, warmth and tenderness are symptoms of overexposure to the sun’s rays. In fact, about 33,000 people seek emergency care for sunburns each year.1
The best way to protect yourself from the sun, Dr. Zwerner says, is prevention.
- When shopping for sunscreen, look for those that protect against both UVA and UVB rays. The sun protection factor (SPF) should be 30 or higher.
- Reapply every two hours and more often if you’re in or near water.
- Look for shade, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Wear long-sleeved, protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and large sunglasses.
These protective strategies can also help prevent skin cancer.
If you’re feeling the burn, take a cool bath and liberally apply a non-comedogenic moisturizer. Drink plenty of water and avoid the sun. Bad sunburns can be painful or cause your skin to blister or peel. You may develop fevers or chills. Talk to a doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
While exploring the outdoors, you may come across dangerous plants. Poison ivy, oak and sumac aren’t poisonous. However, they do give off an oil that causes skin to itch badly and blister.
If you know you’ve been in contact with these plants in wooded or marshy areas, wash your clothes and skin thoroughly. A reaction of red, itchy and swollen skin will appear within one-to-three days if you’ve been affected.
Rashes can also occur from chlorine in the pool or a new soap you’re using while on vacation. It may take some detective work to determine and remove the cause of your irritation.
You can treat rash symptoms with calamine lotion and oatmeal baths. If you get hives, your rash covers the eyes, face, genitals or is severe, talk to a doctor.
Bee and wasp stings are a threat during summer months. They can cause swelling, itching, a rash or even a more serious reaction.
If stung, soothe the area by applying a cold compress or ice. If you have trouble breathing, swelling in your lips or arms, or hives, call 911 immediately. These symptoms signal a severe reaction.
Mosquito bites are a common, yet bothersome, side effect of outdoor fun. Most people get a small bump with some redness or swelling within a day of the bite. Calm the itching with an over-the-counter topical cream. Prevention is effective. Cover up skin, wear a hat and gloves and use a bug repellent with DEET before heading outside.
Aquatic stings and scrapes
Consider wearing a wetsuit to protect your skin from scrapes and irritants. For any water activity, water shoes can protect your feet from rocks and other sharp objects.
Other causes and solutions
If your skin is suffering, don’t be too quick to blame summer itself. Irritants can come from foods, dyes, perfumes or even certain medications. Talk to a doctor who can help you work through some of these other causes.
Preparing for and taking care of these skin issues will help you have a memorable summer for all the right reasons.
Now that your skin is prepared for summer, check out these safe grilling practices for your warm weather cookouts.
Published July 19, 2023