Summer time means outdoor adventures and poolside retreats, but that can also expose you to some common skin conditions brought on by the season. Take note of these five skin problems and find out how to prevent them from happening to you!
Your skin can burn if it gets too much sun without proper protection from sunscreen and clothes. To help heal and soothe stinging skin, it is important to begin treating sunburn as soon as you notice it. The first thing you should do is get out of the sun—and preferably indoors. Once indoors, these dermatologists’ tips can help relieve the discomfort:
Take frequent cool baths or showers to help relieve the pain. As soon as you get out of the bathtub or shower, gently pat yourself dry, but leave a little water on your skin. Then, apply a moisturizer to help trap the water in your skin. This can help ease the dryness.
Use a moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy to help soothe sunburned skin. If a particular area feels especially uncomfortable, you may want to apply a hydrocortisone cream that you can buy without a prescription. Do not treat sunburn with “-caine” products (such as benzocaine), as these may irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.
Consider taking aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce any swelling, redness and discomfort.Drink extra water. A sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body. Drinking extra water when you are sunburned helps prevent dehydration.
If your skin blisters, allow the blisters to heal. Blistering skin means you have a second-degree sunburn. You should not pop the blisters, as blisters form to help your skin heal and protect you from infection.
Take extra care to protect sunburned skin while it heals. Wear clothing that covers your skin when outdoors. Tightly-woven fabrics work best. When you hold the fabric up to a bright light, you shouldn’t see any light coming through.
Although it may seem like a temporary condition, sunburn—a result of skin receiving too much exposure from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays—can cause long-lasting damage to the skin. This damage increases a person’s risk for getting skin cancer, making it critical to protect the skin from the sun.
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 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.
Poison ivy, oak and sumac (rash)
About 85% of people develop an intensely itchy rash when a substance found in these plants, urushiol, gets on their skin. The best way to avoid this itchy rash is to learn what these plants look like and avoid them. If you are not experiencing a serious reaction, the following tips will help you treat the rash and ease the itch.
Immediately rinse your skin with lukewarm, soapy water. If you can rinse your skin immediately after touching poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, you may be able to rinse off some of the oil. This helps ensure that the oil does not spread to other areas of the body and cause additional rashes.
Wash your clothing. Thoroughly wash all of the clothes you were wearing when you came into contact with the poisonous plant. The oil can stick to clothing, and if it touches your skin, it can cause another rash.
Wash everything that may have the oil on its surface. Besides clothing, the oil from poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac can stick to many surfaces, including gardening tools, golf clubs, leashes and even a pet’s fur. Be sure to rinse your pet’s fur, and wash tools and other objects with warm, soapy water.
Do not scratch, as scratching can cause an infection.
Leave blisters alone. If blisters open, do not remove the overlying skin, as the skin can protect the raw wound underneath and prevent infection.
Take short, lukewarm baths. To ease the itch, take short, lukewarm baths in a colloidal oatmeal preparation, which you can buy at your local drugstore. You can also draw a bath and add one cup of baking soda to the running water. Taking short, cool showers may also help.
Consider calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream. Apply calamine lotion to skin that itches. If you have a mild case, a hydrocortisone cream or lotion may also help.
Apply cool compresses to the itchy skin. You can make a cool compress by wetting a clean washcloth with cold water and wringing it out so that it does not drip. Then, apply the cool cloth to the itchy skin.
Consider taking antihistamine pills. These pills can help reduce itching, however use with caution. You should not apply a topical antihistamine to your skin, as doing so can worsen the rash and the itch.
Although most bug bites and stings are harmless, some can be dangerous. This is especially true if you are allergic to the bug’s venom, or if the bug is carrying a disease.
In the United States, it’s common to experience a bite or sting from the following types of bugs:
MosquitoesFleasBedbugsBiting fliesMitesBees, wasps and hornetsSpidersTicksFire ants
Most bug bites and stings can be safely treated at home with topical medication, such as hydrocortisone cream or ointment, or an oral antihistamine to reduce the itch. However, sometimes a bug bite or sting could turn into something serious – particularly if you have been bitten or stung by many insects at the same time.
Go to the emergency room immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after a bug bite or sting:
The sensation that your throat is closing
Swollen lips, tongue or faceChest pain
A racing heartbeat that lasts more than a few minutes
A red, donut-shaped rash that develops after a tick bite: This could be a sign of Lyme disease, which should be treated with antibiotics.
A fever with a red or black, spotty rash that spreads: This could be a sign of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection carried by ticks, which should be treated immediately.
Although most bug bites and stings do not turn into a severe or even fatal illness like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, it’s important to pay attention to your symptoms. If you feel tired all the time, you have a headache, fever or body aches, or you develop a rash after a bug bite, see a board-certified dermatologist immediately.
Ticks are small, insect-like creatures that live in heavily-wooded or grassy areas. If you walk through these areas, they can attach to your skin and feed on your blood. Although most ticks do not carry disease, some can cause serious illness, such as Lyme disease, Powassan virus, or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. To prevent infection, it’s important to remove a tick from your skin as soon as you notice it.
To remove a tick that is attached to your skin, dermatologists recommend the following tips:
Use tweezers to remove the tick. Sterilize the tip of the tweezers using rubbing alcohol and grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Avoid twisting, squeezing or crushing the tick, as this can cause its head or mouth to break off and remain in your skin. If this happens, use tweezers to remove the remaining parts. If you cannot remove the rest of the tick, see a board-certified dermatologist.
Dispose of the tick. Place it in a sealed bag or container; submerse the tick in alcohol; or wrap it tightly in tape. You may also want to save the tick in a sealed jar. That way, if you develop any symptoms after the bite, the tick can be tested for disease.
Clean the bite area with soap and water. Ticks can bite at any time, however they’re most active in April through September. Fortunately, there are many things people can do to protect themselves and their families against ticks.
To prevent tick bites, dermatologists recommend the following tips:
Walk in the center of trails. Avoid walking through heavily-wooded and brushy areas with tall grass.
If you must walk through heavily-wooded areas, wear long pants and long sleeves. Pull your socks up over your pants, and tuck your shirt into your pants to prevent ticks from crawling up your body. It’s also a good idea to wear light-colored clothes so that ticks can be spotted easily.
Use insect repellent that contains 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Make sure to follow the product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, making sure to avoid the hands, eyes and mouth.
Examine your skin after spending time in heavily-wooded or brushy areas. Conduct a full-body tick check to make sure that no ticks are crawling on you. Since ticks prefer warm, moist areas, be sure to check your armpits, groin and hair. You should also check your children, pets and any gear you used outside.
If you develop any symptoms within a few weeks after a tick bite, such as a rash, fever or body aches, see a board-certified dermatologist. Make sure you tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred and where you most likely acquired the tick.
The providers at Kansas Medical Clinic can help keep your skin looking its best this summer! We have 18 providers in Topeka, Manhattan, Emporia, Olathe, Shawnee, Kansas City-Legends, Leawood, and Lawrence, Kansas. Call us and book your appointment today.