As much as we love summer, sometimes, it doesn’t love us back. That’s especially true where our skin’s concerned. We’re all aware of the trauma a sunburn can cause by now, right? (Right?) As big of a deal as that is, it’s only one of several common skin problems that are synonymous with the hot, humid dog days of summer. Here’s a short rundown to help you avoid them.
Sweating goes hand-in-hand with common skin problems in summer—and breakouts. It mixes with the bacteria and oils on your skin, clogging pores. Whether you’re at the gym or the beach, blot sweat with a clean towel. Wiping it off can irritate your skin. And use non-comedogenic products for your entire body, not just your face.
It seems counterintuitive to think that dry skin is a problem in the summer, too, but the potential threats are all around us: the sun, pool, and air conditioning. Between the three of them, they cover all of our time, inside and outside. What to do, then? For starters, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) before heading outside. Next, try to shower and shampoo as soon as you get out of the pool—or, at least, as soon as you get home. And use soap or body wash designed for sensitive skin. Last, slather on fragrance-free moisturizer as soon as you get out of the shower, which will trap the water in your skin.
Poison ivy, oak, and sumac.
We’ve all had it at some point, though some of us can have a much more severe to urushiol, the substance found in these plants that causes an itchy rash. If you’re able to recognize that you’ve come into contact with one of these plants, immediately rinse your skin with lukewarm, soapy water. You’ll also want to wash the clothes you were wearing right away, too. The oil can stick to clothing and cause another rash. As good as it may feel, try to avoid itching because it can lead to an infection. Instead, take short oatmeal baths (baking soda works well, too) or cool showers. And apply calamine lotion once you’ve dried off.
Those of us who exercise outside are particularly prone to it, but, when you can break a sweat just standing around in this humidity, we’re all susceptible. Heat rash is caused by blocked sweat glands. The sweat builds up under your skin, resulting in tiny, itchy bumps. When they burst and release the sweat, it can cause a prickly sensation. Anything you can do to not sweat profusely will reduce your risk. Easier said than done, right? If you’re exercising outside, try to do it during the coolest parts of the day to avoid the common skin problems of summer. And wear lightweight, sweat-wicking fabrics.
Infected hair follicles look just like pimples, but they tend to be itchy and tender. The random infected follicle on your arm or leg isn’t going to ruin your good time, but a small cluster of them may begin to eat into your sanity. As with heat rash, prevention is key. Wear lightweight, sweat-wicking clothes when you exercise and strip them off as soon as your workout’s done. And try to steer clear of hot tubs. They’re such a common culprit that there’s actually a condition called “hot tub folliculitis.”