An itchy rash or sunburned skin can quickly sour summer fun. You can help keep your days carefree and fun by learning how to prevent these summer skin problems.
1. Acne breakouts. When sweat mixes with bacteria and oils on your skin, it can clog your pores. If you have acne-prone skin, this quite often means breakouts. Dermatologists recommend the following to help prevent acne:
- Blot sweat from your skin with a clean towel or cloth. Wiping sweat off can irritate your skin, which can lead to a breakout.
- Wash sweaty clothes, headbands, towels, and hats before wearing them again.
- Use non-comedogenic products on your face, neck, back, and chest. The label may also say “oil free” or “won’t clog pores.”
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2. Dry, irritated skin. When outdoor air is hot and humid, you can still have dry irritated skin. The biggest culprits are spending time in the sun, pool, and air-conditioning. If your skin starts to feel dry and irritated despite the humidity, try these tips:
- Shower and shampoo immediately after getting out of the pool, using fresh, clean water and a mild cleanser or body wash.
- Apply sunscreen before going outdoors, using one that offers broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30+, and water resistance.
- Use a mild cleanser to wash your skin. Soaps and body washes labeled “antibacterial” or “deodorant” can dry your skin.
- Take showers and baths in warm rather than hot water.
- Slather on a fragrance-free moisturizer after every shower and bath. Moisturizer works by trapping water in your skin, so you’ll need to apply it within 5 minutes of taking a shower or bath.
- Turn up the thermostat if the air conditioning makes your home too dry.
3. Prickly heat (or heat rash). Blocked sweat glands cause this. Because the sweat cannot get out, it builds up under your skin, causing a rash and tiny, itchy bumps. When the bumps burst and release sweat, many people feel a prickly and unpleasant sensation on their skin.
Anything you can do to stop sweating profusely will help reduce your risk. Tips that dermatologists offer to their patients to help them sweat less and thereby lessen their risk of getting prickly heat include:
- Wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothes made of cotton.
- Exercise outdoors during the coolest parts of the day or move your workout indoors where you can be in air-conditioning.
- Try to keep your skin cool by using fans, cool showers, and air-conditioning when possible.
4. Sun allergy. You can develop hives (an allergic skin reaction) when you’re in the sun if you:
- Take certain medications
- Have a sun sensitivity (usually runs in the family). If you have an allergic reaction to the sun, you’ll see red, scaly, and extremely itchy bumps on some (or all) bare skin. Some people also get blisters.
To prevent an allergic skin reaction:
- Check your medication container (or ask your pharmacist) to find out if it can cause an allergic reaction when you go out in the sun. Medications that can cause an allergic sun reaction include ketoprofen (found in some pain meds) and these antibiotics — tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline. If the medicine can cause a reaction, stay out of the sun.
- Protect your skin from the sun. You can do this by seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothes, and applying sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, water resistance, and an SPF of 30 or more.
5. Sunburn. Getting sunburn can spoil summer fun and increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Here’s what you can do to prevent sunburned skin:
- Seek shade as much as possible
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeves, and pants when possible
- Apply sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30+, and water resistance
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