Summer can be a bummer when it comes to your skin. When you're wearing shorts or swimwear, you have to protect your skin at all costs from the ravages of the summer, especially sunburn. Even in a short time, the sun's ultraviolet rays can do real damage to your outer layer. Summer also can mean dry skin and bug bites when you're working in the garden or simply walking to your car. Here are 10 ways summer can affect your skin and how to fight back.
Summer Skin Care For Sunburn
The sun's ultraviolet rays can age your skin quickly and increase your risk for skin cancer. "We used to think as long as you did not blister, peel, or burn, you were doing pretty well in the sun," said Lisa Pawleski, M.D., a dermatologist with Dermatologic Care in Pittsburgh. "Now we know that 'just getting a tan' is bad for your skin." Your summer skin care routine should include using sunscreen every time you're exposed for more than 15 to 20 minutes. When shopping for sunscreen, read the label and choose a product that has a minimum SPF 30 and is water resistant. You want a sunscreen that says it protects against both UVA and UVB or has the words "broad spectrum" on the packaging. Apply sunscreen generously to any exposed skin about 15 minutes before heading out. Reapply every two hours, after swimming, or if you are sweating profusely to guard against sunburn.
Summer Skin Care For Poison Ivy
If you're allergic, poison ivy and its cousins -- poison sumac and poison oak -- can give you a nasty skin rash. Protect yourself by knowing what the plants look like (in summer and as the seasons change) so that you can try to avoid them, advised Alicia Zalka, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine and in practice at Dermatology Associates of Western Connecticut. "Be aware it's not only the leaf of the plant, but also the stem and its roots that can lead to an allergic reaction." Over-the-counter hydrocortisone, oatmeal soaks, and oral diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may relieve the itch, Dr. Pawleski said. If your poison ivy is extensive or keeps you up at night, see your doctor. You may need a course of prescription-strength steroids.
Summer Skin Care For Cuts And Scrapes
When you're active in the summer, it's easy to fall prey to cuts and scrapes. Clean the area gently once, cautioned Pawleski. Don't overdo it -- using peroxide or iodine cleansers every day can stun healing skin. Stick to plain petroleum jelly and a light covering, changed daily, to prevent thick, dry, and itchy scabs. If you glob on antibiotic ointment for every little ding, you could become resistant to antibiotics and that could lead to allergic contact dermatitis, Pawleski said. A little pinkness and some slight soreness is a sign of inflammation, a normal part of healing. However, if your wound appears to be infected -- it's swollen, puffy and red -- you need to see your doctor for treatment.
Summer Skin Care For Chlorine
On a hot summer day, what's better than a dip in a swimming pool? The problem is chlorine is often added to swimming pools to keep the water free of germs. A harsh chemical, chlorine can do a number on healthy skin and eyes. "Hair texture and color can be affected by prolonged exposure to chlorine," Zalka said. To minimize this summer skin bummer, wear goggles and a swim cap. Also, as soon as you get out, rinse your skin and hair with fresh water. If you have the option, swim in saltwater pools. "Salt water pools don't require the addition of chlorine tablets or powders and have shown to be less problematic for skin and hair," Zalka added.
Summer Skin Care for Dry Skin
You wouldn't think that swimming would dry out your skin, but when your skin is constantly immersed in water, it can become dry, raw, and cracked. Soaking in a hot tub can remove your natural skin oils. The skin and beauty solution: As soon as you emerge, apply moisturizer to your skin. Moisturizers work best to trap your natural skin oils if you apply while skin is still damp.
Summer Skin Care For Blemishes
Do you find blemishes and breakouts are more common in summer? One explanation is that sweat can mix with dirt and oil on your skin and clog your pores. Another is that some sunscreen formulations may clog pores, too. The solution to this summer skin and beauty issue is to look for skin and beauty products that are non-comedogenic, or won't block pores. Also, try not to use your hands to constantly wipe sweat off your brow -- you could actually be introducing more dirt to the area. Cleanse with a non-drying acne wash and lukewarm water to keep skin clear. Note: Some acne medications can make your skin particularly sensitive to the sun's ultraviolet rays; you'll do better if you have it "made in the shade."
Summer Skin Care For Feet
A pedicure will leave your feet looking terrific in summer sandals, right? Well, pedicures can pose a health risk if the nail salon you frequent doesn't adhere to proper sanitation standards -- you could contract a fungal infection or even a staph infection. Ask about the procedures they follow. Also, request a hands-off policy regarding cuticles and heavy nail buffing to protect the integrity of your nails.
Summer Skin Care For Bug Bites
It's hard to get through the summer without a mosquito bite or two (or more), especially if you're spending time near water or food. If you're bitten, wash the bite with soap and water. "Over-the-counter topical steroid creams will limit the itch," Zalka said. Scratching is a no-no to avoid infection -- apply an icepack to an itchy bite or a paste made from baking soda and water for a sting. If your skin becomes red or infected, call your doctor.
Summer Skin Care For Low Humidity
When the temperature soars, the only relief may be staying indoors in air conditioning. The problem with air conditioning is that it pulls the humidity out of the air, and that can dry out your skin, or worsen an existing dry skin condition. Running a humidifier will put moisture back in the air. Other quick tips are to take short showers in lukewarm (not hot) water and slather on the body cream as soon as you get out. Stay hydrated from the inside, too, by drinking lots of water.
Summer Skin Care For Shaving
In the interest of skin and beauty, you probably shave your legs and underarms more often in summer. To lessen the irritation that shaving can cause, shower or bathe before you shave so your skin is wet and plump. Always shave in the direction that your hair grows. Change blades frequently so you're never using a dull blade, which is even more irritating, and shave lightly so as not to nick your skin.
"10 Quick Fixes for Summer Skin Bummers" originally appeared on Everyday Health