For many people, the warm temperatures and sunny days of summer mean more time outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather. Unfortunately, higher temperatures, increased sun exposure, and flourishing plant life can also lead to breakouts and flareups for those who struggle with skin conditions. Dr. Aubrey Wagenseller of U.S. Dermatology Partners Fairfax regularly works with people who want to prevent and treat summer skin issues that can flare up during the warmer weather. In this blog, Dr. Wagenseller takes the time to answer some frequently asked questions and provide some great tips to keep your skin healthy all summer long.
Summer Skin Issues FAQ: How Do I Deal with Acne Breakouts in the Summer?
While the heat and excess sweat may lead to an increase in breakouts for acne sufferers, acne breakouts may actually be more prevalent in the winter. According to Dr. Wagenseller, “If your face becomes too dry (which is more common in the winter), your oil (sebaceous) glands will make more sebum (oil) to counteract this. Increased sebum production contributes to acne breakouts.” However, there are also many factors that can lead to summertime acne breakouts. Dr. Wagenseller reminds people with acne to choose their sunscreens wisely, she said, “Sometimes patients get an acne-like rash with the use of a new sunscreen they’ve never tried before.” If you are experiencing an acne breakout during the summer, continue your regular hygiene routine. Visit the dermatologist if there are significant changes to your skin health. We can help you review your skin care routine and products to ensure you avoid breakouts whenever possible.
Summer Skin Issues FAQ: How Do I Prevent & Treat Poison Ivy?
When it comes to poison ivy, avoiding this plant and protecting yourself from breakouts is always the best option. To prevent rashes from poison ivy, learn to recognize and stay away from the plants and remove poison ivy around your home. If you need to handle the plants for removal, wear protective clothing, including long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and pants. If you are exposed to poison ivy, remove and clean clothing and wash your body within an hour. Take special care cleaning under the fingernails, at the scalp, and in other areas where poison ivy resins can accumulate. There are over the counter protective lotions and creams (like sunscreens) that are used to create a barrier to help you avoid skin rashes from poison ivy.
If you have a mild case of poison ivy, Dr. Wagenseller recommends, “Apply over the counter hydrocortisone several times a day. You can use an ice pack to relieve itching. Because poison ivy reactions can be very severe, topical steroids may not be enough. I recommend you see your physician or visit us here at U.S. Dermatology Partners Fairfax if the reaction is severe. Oral steroids, which require a prescription, can provide faster relief.”
Summer Skin Issues FAQ: How Do I Prevent & Treat Insect Bites?
Insect repellents can be filled with chemicals that irritate the skin, and they may have adverse effects on your health. However, there are some good products available and a dermatologist can help you find one that works for you. Wear protective clothing, use bed nets and tent screens, and do everything you can to protect yourself from bites if you’re going to be outside for extended periods. Dr. Wagenseller recommends, “For minor insect bite reactions, apply over the counter hydrocortisone 2-3 times per day to help relieve the itch and use ice packs to reduce swelling, itching, and discomfort as you would for poison ivy.” If the bite doesn’t clear up after a few days or the symptoms worsen, contact one of our board-certified dermatologists.
Summer Skin Issues FAQ: What is Heat Rash?
Heat rash, technically called miliaria rubra, occurs when sweat glands become clogged, leading to inflammation, swelling, and itching. During the summer, heat and sun exposure cause people to sweat more, increasing the risk for heat rash. Wearing tight-fitting clothing in humid environments can occlude the sweat ducts, precipitating the bumps from heat rash. According to Dr. Wagenseller, you may be dealing with heat rash if you notice, “Bumps that are usually red, all the same size and very itchy.” When it comes to restoring your skin health and relieving symptoms, Dr. Wagenseller says, “You can try treating heat rash with over the counter hydrocortisone 2-3 times per day, but a stronger, prescription-strength topical steroid may be needed if this does not help.”
Summer Skin Issues FAQ: How Do I Soothe Sunburn?
Sunburn is by far the most common skin condition people struggle with during the summer months. Like the other common concerns, protecting your skin during sun exposure is the most important first step. You should apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher to the face, hands, and areas that will be exposed to UV rays on a daily basis. If you’re going to be outdoors for extended periods, use SPF 30 or higher sunscreen and reapply every two hours. Take breaks from sun exposure during peak hours from 10 am to 4 pm.
If you do get a sunburn, you can usually care for the damaged skin at home as you heal. There are numerous aloe vera lotions and gels available that can soothe the burn and restore moisture to begin healing the skin. You can also take lukewarm or cool baths and showers to reduce your skin temperature and relieve discomfort. While peeling skin is normal after sunburns, fight the urge to pick at it, exfoliate, or scrub the flaking skin. This can lead to irritation and inflammation, and you may open a sore, which can lead to the risk of infection.
In most cases, sunburns are treatable at home, but if you have severe blisters or notice signs of infection (fever, inflammation, discharge, red lines) or your sunburn doesn’t heal, you need to call your dermatologist. They can offer treatments to reduce the pain and ensure you make a complete recovery.
When Should I Visit U.S. Dermatology Partners?
At U.S. Dermatology Partners, we are here to work with people to achieve and maintain their skin health, so anytime you need help with a current or chronic skin condition, we’re here for you. If you live in or around the Fairfax, VA area, Dr. Wagenseller and her team would love to see you at U.S. Partners Fairfax. If you don’t live in the Fairfax area, take a few moments to fill out our simple online form. With offices nationwide, there’s likely a U.S. Dermatology Partners location near you. One of our local team members will be in touch to help you schedule an appointment soon.
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