Let's Talk Summer Skin Issues

July 4th Celebrate Safely Please!

Now’s a perfect time is now to think about how to safely enjoy summer. The next few blogs will cover care for common summer skin issues. I will share information and the management of Heat rash, Poison Ivy, Insects Stings, Sunburn, and Acne Breakouts.

Heat Rash

Also known as miliaria rubra, occurs when sweat glands become clogged, resulting in redness (inflammation), swelling, and itching. The rash will occur especially in creases where sweat accumulates. Humidity, heat, and tight clothes will make rash commonly appear in areas like the groin area, buttock crease, and under breasts. Prevention is best, Many who are susceptible use agents such as Desitin®, a zinc oxide preparation to prevent and treat.  However once a rash erupts, good hygiene and application of OTC hydrocortisone cream three times a day should help. If not improved after 4 days please see a dermatologist.

 Poison Ivy

Learn to recognize this three-leafed plant and stay away from it.  Once it’s on your skin and it itches you’ll scratch and spread it elsewhere. If you’ve been exposed to poison ivy, you must, within an hour, wash the body parts exposed, including the scalp, and hands, and take special care to wash under your nails.  Clothes must also be washed. If you were out and wearing sunscreen that will create a barrier if you should inadvertently come in contact with Poison Ivy. Now if you have a mild case, the itching can be reduced by applying topical Hydrocortisone cream that’s available over the counter. Cold compress application can decrease the itching sensation. If an extensive area of your skin is involved you may need oral steroids to get control of the itching and the spreading and to suppress the inflammation. There’s always a risk of infection of the lesions. So keeping it clean trying not to scratch – under our nails is not very clean.

Insect Stings

Insect stings are very concerning especially if you are allergic. If you know you are allergic and carry an EpiPen, you should notify those who are with you. Before you go outdoors think about the insect(s) you’re allergic to that might be present and where they might be. Do not use any scented products such as shampoos, soaps, lotions, perfumes, aftershaves, or sunscreens that might attract insects.

Again focus on the prevention. Wear protective clothing, and use bed nets and tent screens. Some repellents are chemical irritants to our skin. However, there are now many natural safe insect repellents.

Bumble bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets all can inject their venom into your body with stingers, but only honey bees can leave the stinger embedded in your flesh. Should you be stung by a bee make sure there is no ‘stinger’ remaining in the skin. Use your magnifier from your smartphone to examine the sting area for a remaining ‘stinger’.  If you are not sure whether or not the ‘stinger’ is still present,  be safe and use a credit card and flick over the sting site. Then wash the area of the sting and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and itching. You might apply hydrocortisone cream to further reduce inflammation.

The sting site should start to clear up in a few days.  If swelling increases and/or redness intensifies you will need to seek medical care. Sting sites can get infected!  Bites from insects such as spiders, fire ants mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks require special consideration. Information for a future blog. 

Watch for my next blog on Sunburn, and Acne Breakouts