Tool Kit for Summer Skin
We want you to have a fun, healthy summer and don’t want to predict challenges. However, to avoid or remedy possible perils specific to the season, we put together a little list to help keep you on track.
1. Bugs Bite!
Naturally, bugs love summer too! Mosquitoes, flies, and ticks are the most unwelcome of the lot. While many insects are just a nuisance, particular attention must be paid to ticks. Ticks are small, often impossible to see, blood-suckers that attach to the skin for their meal. Unfortunately, they harbor lyme and other tick-borne diseases that can enter your blood stream. While such bites are stereotypically characterized by a bull’s-eye rash—red rings increasing in size around a central bite—there can also be no rash at all or a less defined reddening (often mistaken for a spider or other bite). Since lyme can develop into a debilitating, long-lasting condition, it is critical to get immediate treatment. Do not wait for test results since testing is notoriously inaccurate and wastes precious time. Get yourself to a doctor who understands this and who will immediately prescribe adequate doses of antibiotics. Of course, the best approach is prevention: wearing an effective tick repellent, covering the skin (especially in deep woods and tall grasses), doing frequent bodily tick checks, showering and washing clothes after outdoor activities, and protecting pets that go outdoors. For more information, please visit the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society and the Global Lyme Alliance.
2. Poison Ivy
We applaud all outdoor activity especially the kind that gets your hands dirty. This can be incredibly relaxing and restorative. However, if you only get out in the garden once in a while, you may not know poison ivy from a petunia. Poison ivy, the plant, is a creeping vine with sort of tear-shaped, three-leaf clusters. Poison ivy, the condition, is an allergic contact dermatitis, which looks like a blistering rash. However, not everyone is allergic to the plant oils that cause this rash. For those who do react, the immune system responds ever more intensely with each new exposure causing worse and worse rashes.
If you didn’t wear gloves or cover your legs and arms and suspect you’ve had contact with poison ivy oils, wash your skin with warm, soapy water immediately. This also goes for the clothes you were wearing and anything else these oils may have touched. And DO NOT scratch! This can lead to secondary infections of the blistered areas. Use calamine lotion and oral benadryl (if you can tolerate it) to keep the itch in check. Getting to a dermatologist quickly can clear this very uncomfortable rash faster and prevent it from spreading. Poison ivy usually resolves on its own, but certainly early intervention can speed recovery through the use of prescription-strength cortisone creams and, if necessary, oral steroids.
3. Sunscreen and the lack thereof
So you got a bad sunburn. It happens. Now what? It depends on the severity of the burn. Sometimes it can take hours before you realize the extent of the damage.
Take a cool shower and begin moisturizing frequently. This will help reduce peeling and irritation. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, will help too because all burns draw fluid to the surface of the skin. Meanwhile, the rest of your body becomes dehydrated, which can lead to fainting, headaches, and other unpleasant feelings. Take ibuprofen if you can tolerate it (brand name: Advil, Motrin, etc.) to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. Acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol) takes care of pain, but does not reduce inflammation.
When should you seek medical attention? The answer: when you have a lot of discomfort or if the involved area is larger and deeper than expected. Fevers and chills are another sign that it’s time to get help. If severe dehydration is suspected, an IV drip may also be in order.
Have questions about summer skin care?
Call us: (203) 323-5660 or
You know you should wear SPF 40 or higher sunscreen with broad-spectrum sun protection and a physical block like zinc or titanium dioxide. You know you should cover your head and other areas as much as possible. You know you should seek shade whenever possible. And you know eating and drinking enough during the day keeps your blood sugar up and keeps you hydrated.
Whether you’re going on an exotic sunny vacation this summer or sitting in your backyard, building up a base tan at the local tanning salon should NOT be on your to-do list. Remember, all UV light—whether from the sun or a salon—has the potential to damage your skin and cause skin cancer. We feel so strongly about this issue, we wrote an entire blog post about the dangers of tanning beds.
People often have one-and-done thinking about the application of their sunscreen. They slather on a quality sunscreen when they head out, but forget to reapply it throughout the day. We highly recommend applying sunscreen every 1-2 hours,
depending on your skin type. If you have fair skin, apply sunscreen more frequently. Reapplication is especially critical if you go swimming or if you get vey sweaty.
Sometimes using the same sunscreen for your entire body can cause acne breakouts on your face. Often the ingredients in sunscreens can be comedogenic—promoting comedones, otherwise known as blackheads and whiteheads. This can be prevented by using sun protection specifically designed for the face. Our personal favorite is Elta MD UV Clear.
4. Photosensitivity—it’s not about the paparazzi!
If you’re taking a prescription medication you should always read the drug fact sheet included by the pharmacy. Come summer, it may be that something you’re taking can cause a phototoxic or photoallergic reaction. In other words, some drugs do not combine well with sun exposure. Signs include itching, redness, swelling, burning, and stinging.
Common drugs that can cause this kind of reaction are certain antibiotics like tetracycline, doxycycline, Cipro, Levaquin, and Bactrim. Antihistamines, malaria medications, cancer chemo drugs, psychiatric drugs, Accutane (used to treat acne), and many more can also be an issue.
Also be wary of squeezing citrus fruits outside while in the sun. Surprisingly, this can cause a phototoxic rash as well.
5. Fungal Flares
Fungal infections tend to flare up in the summer because they flourish in warmth and moisture. Prescription topical antifungal creams are usually much more effective than the OTC varieties, but some people need oral antifungal medications such as Lamisil or Sporanox to get the job done.
6. Drenching Downpours
If you suffer from hyperhidrosis—excessive sweating—it’s not surprising that your condition may worsen in hot weather. This is the kind of drenching sweat that soaks your clothing through and through and can make social situations excruciating. Prescription antiperspirants can be helpful along with Botox injections, which can create a six-month reprieve from this embarrassing situation. Treatment is also usually covered by insurance!
7. Hair Straightening: not a smooth move!
We understand that managing frizzy hair in summer humidity can be challenging. Hair-straightening systems like keratin hair treatments and Brazilian blowouts are formaldehyde-based. That’s right, they contain formaldehyde, the cancer-causing agent used to preserve corpses! You don’t want to breathe that in or get it on your skin (which is impossible to do when it’s on your head and hair). Formaldehyde can also cause asthma-like breathing problems, itching, and skin rashes. If it gets in your eyes, it can create damage and blindness. Don’t be fooled by claims that some treatments are formaldehyde-free. Other chemical names are often used to conceal formaldehyde and it can be released with the application of heat. Pretty sneaky and NOT healthy for you or your salon worker. Instead, try deep conditioners, the gentle use of flat irons, (you don't want to cause hair breakage), and styling gels that help you to achieve the look you want. A very natural way to go is to rub some jojoba or almond oil evenly on your hands and then run your hands through your wet hair, especially at the hair tips. This replaces oils striped by washing and tames the frizz. Using natural oils is also a huge money-saver requiring only a drop or two after each washing.
Have questions about summer skin care?
Call us: (203) 323-5660 or