Summer does have its itchy downside. If athlete's foot or jock itch
don't plague you, chances are you're
prey to mosquitoes, yellow jackets, fire ants, maybe poison ivy. Your skin also pays the price for
those hours you spend in the sun and pool. Here are some survival tips from the
By Jessie Knadler
You didn't see it coming. You didn't even feel it land — until a split second
later when you suddenly realize you've had the wind knocked out of you. What
just hit you? Someone's nasty comment, and it's cut you to the core.
Sometimes a faultfinder disguises her disapproval as a quasi-compliment:
"I would have never had the courage to talk to my boss the way you
did." Other times, a jab takes the form of a cautionary tale: "You're
going on a cruise? I still get nightmares...
Athlete's foot and jock itch leave a patchy rash that itches
like the devil. These are caused by a fungus called ringworm --
"opportunists," says Ron Shelton, MD, assistant professor of
dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center and co-director of The New York
Aesthetic Center in New York City.
"They're really prevalent in a dark, moist, and warm
environment [like on the feet or the groin]," he tells WebMD. "If they
find the right conditions, they thrive."
Rules of prevention:
Get out of any sweaty clothes as soon as you can.
Wear clothing that "breathes well," such as cotton.
Wear socks with sneakers, or change sneakers often.
Wear absorbent powder in those sweat-prone areas as a preventive
But if infection has developed, see a doctor. Treating yourself
with those over-the-counter creams and sprays presents a problem with these
infections, says Shelton. "You might get rid of most of the infection --
yet not all of it, and not enough [of the infection] is left to show up on a
lab test. So it's difficult for a physician to diagnose the problem
Heat rash is caused by sweat glands that get blocked under
clothing. Sweat accumulates under skin, which creates little, itchy, red or
clear bumps. Talcum powder won't help, even though you may be inclined to use
it. Cool compresses work best; try soaking a tea bag in water for your
compress, Shelton suggests. Also, keep skin as cool and dry as possible.
Pool and Sun Problems
Chlorine wreaks havoc on hair and skin. Green hair after a pool
party is a problem for some. Just make sure you rinse off thoroughly after
swimming. Moisturizer for your skin is optional, says Shelton.
As for sun problems, redheads or blue-eyed blondes who burn
easily are at highest risk of skin cancer. But even dark-skinned people can get
"Protect yourself" is the experts' mantra:
Always use a sun block with SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher --
even under your clothes. Loosely woven cloth such as cotton provides very
little sun protection.
Stay out of the sun during the midday hours, when rays are strongest.
Reapply sunscreen often.
If you're allergic, you know how annoying poison ivy can be.
The itching and oozing can last up to two weeks -- it just seems longer.
Poison ivy, oak, and sumac all work the same. Your nemesis is
urushiol, the poisonous oil that adheres to your skin and causes the symptoms,
says Kathy Burke, MD, PHD, a dermatologist at Cabrini Medical Center in New
York City. The itching and rashes don't appear immediately; it typically takes
between 5 to 21 days before you feel those effects.