With the weather warming up and summer just around the corner, the time of year for trips to the coast, cookouts, and vacations is finally here. While spending time basking in the sun might feel wonderful, the heat, nature, and the suns’ rays can all impact the health of your skin. To keep you looking and feeling your best this summer season, here are a few tips on how to avoid some common summer skin care problems from your Salem skin care professionals at Valley View Dermatology.
While sunburns can cause some serious discomfort, they can also cause your skin to prematurely age and lead to the development of skin cancer.
The best way to prevent sun damage to your skin is to limit the amount of sun exposure you receive – especially between 10 am and 2 pm – when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
To lower your risk of sunburn, follow these simple steps:
- Always wear sunscreen on all exposed areas of skin whenever heading outdoors. To ensure you receive adequate protection, look for sunscreen brands with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher.
- Apply more sunscreen every 2 hours when outdoors, or immediately after sweating or swimming.
- Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to limit sun exposure to your face.
- To keep your lips from burning – yes, your lips can become sunburned too – apply a lip balm with an SPF of at least 30.
- If you suffer a sunburn, take a cool bath or shower, and use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or moisturizer. It should help ease any discomfort.
Contact your doctor immediately if you develop:
- Facial swelling
- Extreme pain
- A significant area that’s sunburned
A pesky part of spending the day outdoors, pests like chiggers and mosquitoes can do their best to ruin your fun. Fortunately, you can avoid these buggers by taking a few precautions.
Stay away from high grass and brushy areas. If you can’t avoid these areas during a hike or in the field, be sure to wear long sleeves and pants. You may even want to tuck your pant legs into your socks for a little added protection.
Wear more neutral colors, and avoid wearing perfume, cologne, or other strong scents while outside.
Apply insect repellent when in the woods or brush. Products that contain the active ingredient DEET or picaridin tend to offer longer lasting effects when compared to all-natural alternatives. Just be sure to avoid using products that contain DEET and other chemicals on children under the age of 4.
If you desire a natural alternative to chemicals like DEET, look for products that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus, which studies have found provides similar protection to products that contain low levels of DEET. However, while DEET offers protection against mosquitoes and ticks, oil of lemon eucalyptus offers some protection against mosquitoes only.
Poison sumac, oak, and ivy can all give you uncomfortably itchy skin and a red, blistering rash. The reaction your skin has to these plants occurs when the oil from their leafs gets on your skin.
The best way to reduce your risk of developing a rash is to learn what these plants look like and try to avoid them. If you do come in contact with one, wash your skin with warm water as soon as possible. To prevent the spread of these itchy oils to other parts of your body, make sure to scrub underneath your fingernails. Also, wash your clothes in hot water to remove the oil.
If you develop a rash, these tips might help you find some relief:
- Apply a cool compress to the affected skin.
- Take a lukewarm bath using an oatmeal bath product. You can also add 1 cup of baking soda to running bath water.
- Use a lotion containing calamine or an antihistamine.
Contact your Salem skin care professional if:
- You develop a fever.
- The rash appears severe or looks infected.
- The rash has spread to your face, eyes, lips, or genitals.