Summer is a time for vacations, cookouts, outdoor sports, and beach trips. All that time outside can take a toll on your skin, though. Here are some common summer skin hazards, and what you can do to prevent and treat them.
Red and painful skin. Blisters. Peeling. Sunburn is uncomfortable, to be sure. But it can also cause premature aging and lead to skin cancer.
Your best protection against sunburn is to limit the time your skin is exposed to the sun. Here are some ways to protect your skin from sun damage:
- Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed areas of skin about 30 minutes before you go outside. Look for a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours while you’re in the sun, or right after swimming or sweating.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Use a lip balm with an SPF 30 or higher.
- Limit how much sun you get between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
If you get a sunburn, try this: Take a cool shower or bath and use a moisturizer or an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. It might ease the discomfort.
From mosquitoes to chiggers, summer insects can cause itching, swelling, and pain.
- Avoid brushy areas and high grass. If you must go into these areas, wear long pants and sleeves, and tuck your pant legs into your socks.
- Avoid wearing bright colors and perfume or other strong scents when you go outside.
- Use insect repellent when you’re in wooded or brushy areas. Those with DEET or picaridin as active ingredients typically provide protection that lasts longer than others, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Studies have also found that oil of lemon eucalyptus provides protection similar to products with low concentrations of DEET.
- Check for ticks after you’ve been outdoors.
If you get bitten, prompt treatment helps. A cold compress or ice pack will curb the swelling.
For help with itchy bites, use calamine lotion, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, or antihistamine.
Poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac can give you itchy skin and a red, blistering rash. The reaction happens when oil from these plants gets onto your skin.
The best way to prevent a rash is to learn what these plants look like and avoid them. If you do come in contact with a poisonous plant, wash your skin in cool water right away. Scrub under your fingernails so you won’t spread the oil to other parts of your body. Wash your clothes in hot water to remove the oil.
If you still come into contact with these poisonous plants, use these tips to find relief:
- Apply cool compresses to your skin.
- Take a lukewarm bath using an oatmeal bath product or aluminum acetate.
- Use calamine lotion, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, or antihistamine.
Call your doctor if you have a fever, the rash is severe or looks infected, or if the rash is on your lips, eyes, face, or genital area.