Is it hot enough for you? While you’re struggling to stay cool, don’t forget that summer also brings along skin woes like sunburns, allergies, infections and prickly heat. The summer’s ultraviolet rays are intense and can damage your skin in no time at all, so take some precautions.
Sunburn: Excessive exposure and lack of protection cause sunburns. You might experience burning, itching, and in extreme cases, blisters. Sunburns put you at an increased risk for skin damage, premature aging and skin cancer.
To prevent sunburn never go out without applying sunscreen. And remember to reapply every 2 to 3 hours. If you have sensitive skin, try to avoid going out in the sun between noon and 5 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest.
Skin allergies: Sensitive skin is highly prone to skin allergies or rashes during the heat of the summer. The slightest of irritation caused by sun rays, chemicals or even dust can cause allergies. If you experience any allergy-related symptoms to your skin, consult a dermatologist.
Prickly heat: Prickly heat is an uncomfortable condition of the skin caused by excessive sweating and exposure to direct heat. The dead skin cells and bacteria block the pores of the sweat glands, resulting in irritation and eruption of tiny spots of blisters and causing a prickling sensation.
To prevent prickly heat, wear loose cotton clothing and avoid wearing silk, Lycra or other materials that do not “breathe.” When bathing, make an extra effort to clean skin folds, use an anti-bacterial soap, and avoid moisturizers and heavy makeup.
Summer acne: Although a tan might temporarily camouflage breakouts and discoloration caused by acne, there is no evidence that tanning clears acne. And because sebaceous glands are influenced by heat and humidity, overexposure to the sun might actually cause the skin to become oilier.
More oil equals more breakouts. Not only that, but also many acne medications might cause increased sensitivity of the skin to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
For a healthier, safer alternative, get your golden glow from a sunless tanner.
Photosensitivity is an increased sensitivity of the skin to UV light. Exposure to the sun will cause sunburn and possibly blisters. Long term photosensitivity can increase the risk of skin cancer. Photosensitivity can be caused by topical and oral medications, perfumes, or by certain diseases.
Many medications increase your sensitivity to the sun, including retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and some antibiotics. Talk to your doctor to find out if your medication causes photosensitivity, and always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
The heat of the sun is at its peak here in the Lowcountry, and going outside without protecting your skin is just inviting trouble. If you experience extreme sunburn, allergic reactions, or see any sign of skin infection, call your dermatologist.
Dr. Oswald Lightsey Mikell, certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, is the owner of Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry.