5 Summer Skin Problems You Can Easily Prevent

Wellness

5 Summer Skin Problems You Can Easily Prevent

Renata Block, MMS, PA-C
By Renata Block, MMS, PA-C
Jul 22, 2020 - Updated Jun 14, 2021
Woman on beach using sun screen on her arm

During the summer season some skin issues may spike, and many can include over-the-counter (OTC) treatments.

You can even prevent some problems from getting out of control or avoid them altogether. Don’t let these common skin problems lead to a summer bummer. Follow these skin care tips to reduce the chance of ruining your outdoor fun. If you are treating a condition and it is not improving, call your dermatologist right away to determine if a prescription medication is needed.

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1. Bug Bites Leading to Itchy Skin

Summer is for outdoor activities, but many bitting bugs are living in grass and shrubs. Chiggers are little red mites that can lead to some itchy red bumps, and we cannot forget about fleas, which reside not only in the grass but on your pets as well.

Both can be a nuisance and attack your arms and legs. Mosquitos cause hive like reactions as well. Regardless, experiencing red itchy bumps can be alarming, but scratching them can make matters worse. The additional skin injury can lead to secondary bacterial infections.

The best you can do is to stop the itch as fast as you can. After washing the area and patting dry, a low potency corticosteroid such as Cortaid or Cortizone-10 is excellent to start immediately.

The best approach is to apply twice daily and taper as the area improves, which means you could be using it for 10–14 days. Adding an antihistamine such as Zyrtec or Xyzal as directed can help reduce itching that is caused by the histamine response your body makes when nipped by these unwanted pests. Do your best to avoid them altogether by wearing a bug repellent of your choice.

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2. Rashes Caused by Plants

While gardening, camping, or hiking you may encounter poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac. It is best to wear long sleeves outdoors, but if you don’t and suspect exposure to unknown plants, rinse or cleanse the area with water right away. Don’t forget to wash the clothing you wore during your exposure.

Own any pets? The resin or urushiol can accumulate on their fur, and each time you come into contact with it, it can activate the itchy rash. That said, if you don’t rinse the resin off, you can spread the rash to other areas.

Treating the area with an OTC corticosteroid will be helpful; however, you may need to visit your dermatologist for additional treatment options, such as oral prednisone or a more potent topical corticosteroid (such as or hydrocortisone ) if the rash isn’t healing.

3. Acne and Infections from Humidity and Sweating

The combination of humidity and sweating is a skin’s nightmare. It can create clogging, especially if dust and pollution accumulate on the surface as well. Wiping causes rubbing and friction, which can lead to more irritation and even acne flares, so it is best to blot off sweat with a towel or cloth.

Folliculitis is another condition resulting from humidity and sweating. It is a bacterial, yeast, or fungal infection of the hair follicle leading to itchy, tender, pimple like bumps. Wearing loose clothing and continuously patting skin dry are the best approaches to help prevent it. Using AHA or BHA products, such as those by Neutrogena, is perfect for keeping the skin from getting congested. Also, look for non-comedogenic products or products that are labeled “oil-free” to reduce the risk of clogging the pores.

4. Short- and Long-Term Skin Conditions from Sun Exposure

Not only can sunburns be painful, but they can also increase your risk of developing skin cancer. A blistering sunburn is considered a second-degree burn, and treating it as such is essential for healing. Eucerin After Sun Creme-Gel, Alocane Emergency Burn Gel, and Solarcaine Cool Aloe Gel or Spray are excellent treatment options and are also soothing. Treating with NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or Advil, can help take down the inflammation and pain.

Another common skin complaint is melasma or discolored patches to the face, mainly seen in females to the upper lip, cheeks, or forehead. Though asymptomatic, melasma can be a challenge to manage.

A sun allergy does exist, and sometimes certain medications can exacerbate it, resulting in itchy hives. Treatment with OTC antihistamines and topical corticosteroids may provide relief. Wearing a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen, a wide broad-brimmed hat, and UPF 50+ protective clothing will help protect you. Wearing sunscreen is essential, but reapplication every 1–2 hours is vital for the best results to avoid any skin issue mentioned above.

Last, the dreaded heat rash, or prickly heat, is not only unsightly but very itchy. Heat rash is caused by sweat glands that get blocked; when they finally burst, it leads to small, itchy red bumps that are typically seen on the chest but can appear anywhere you sweat. Sweating less equals a better chance of avoiding it altogether, so make sure you wear loose clothing, avoid exercise in the hottest hours of the day, and keep your skin cool with fans and air-conditioning.

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5. Dermatitis from Swimming and Water Activities

Chlorine can increase skin dryness and wreak havoc on sensitive skin, meaning skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or generally dry skin can become exacerbated. Rinse the chlorine immediately after exposure and pat the skin dry. Using a water-resistant SPF may also help decrease the risk. It is best to continue your skincare habits from the winter months by taking warm showers instead of hot showers, patting the skin dry with a towel, and applying a moisturizer within 5 minutes every day.

Focus on mild cleansers and fragrance free-moisturizers such as Sebamed and CeraVe; creating a healthy skin barrier and maintaining it will help a lot. On a side note, watch out for antibacterial soaps because they can dry out your skin. Given the increased use of hand sanitizers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be best to keep a moisturizer at your side all the time.

Whirlpools and hot tubs can be a breeding ground for infections if the acid and chlorine levels are not on point. Bacterial infections within the follicles can lead to pseudomonas folliculitis. Prescription oral antibiotics and even topical antibiotics can help. Check to make sure the levels are in balance before hopping in.

Swimmer’s itch is the most common culprit of an itchy rash from freshwater habitats. Parasites, which can burrow into your skin, thrive in warm water, thus, in shallow areas where kids usually play. To avoid these intense, itchy red blotches, typically seen outside your swimwear covering, try briskly rubbing immediately after exposure, which may help prevent the burrow. You may want to watch out for signs that warn you of increased risk.

Saltwater and sun can be a relief for someone who has psoriasis, but swimming in the ocean or sea has its own risks for the skin. Pica-pica, or seabather's eruption, results when larvae from jellyfish or other coelenterate species get trapped between your skin and swimwear or gear. The stinging sensation from rubbing your skin is characteristic of pica-pica and differentiates it from the swimmer's itch. Again, look out for warning signs of increased risk.

Stay Safe This Summer

Though these summer bummers are typically just a nuisance and usually transient, do not hesitate to reach out to your dermatologist if the condition is not improving.

Renata Block, MMS, PA-C

Renata Block, MMS, PA-C

Renata Block, MMS, PA-C, has been practicing in Dermatology in Chicago since 2003. She is a strong patient advocate, and gives back to her community by providing educational resources about skincare to create public awareness.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.