Posted by Michael Barber, July 23, 2013 (last updated on November 27, 2018)
Summer skin irritations are common in everyone from babies and toddlers to teens and adults. Although most are harmless, without proper treatment, some summer skin nuisances can turn into a real annoyance. Here are four common summer skin irritations and when you should worry:
1. Heat Rash
Clogged sweat ducts are the cause of most heat rashes. This rash can range from tiny bumps and itchy sores to blisters. Heat rashes are often found in skin folds and most go away on their own in a few days. Prevent these types of rashes by wearing breathable fabrics and keeping skin cool or shaded.
A doctors care could be needed if the rash won't go away after four or five days. If you scratch heat rash to the point of infection, you may experience pain, swelling, and redness that requires a prescription cream or oral medication to treat the rash.
2. Bug Bites and Stings
Mosquito bites are very annoying, but mostly harmless. However, many of us are allergic to bee or wasp stings or other insect bites and require immediate care. Others may only experience swelling around the bite, itching and pain.
A severe reaction or allergy is seen in the form of anaphylaxis and requires speedy medical attention. Swelling, itching and pain is easily treated with hydrocortisone spray or taking an antihistamine to stop itching and alleviating pain.
Seek medical attention if you know you are allergic to insect bites or stings of any kind. The less severe can be treated with OTC creams, calamine lotion and hydrocortisone sprays. Be sure to protect your skin from insect bites by using prevention sprays that include DEET.
3. Poisonous Plants
It's the time of year for outdoor activities and gardening but plant rashes are very common. A frolic into unnoticed poison ivy can result in bumps, itching, swelling and severe pain for some. Most people respond to hydrocortisone creams or oral antihistamines. Those who are severely allergic may need oral steroids to treat poison ivy.
It's not just poison ivy to watch out for in warmer months. Any plant with thorns or spines can cause skin irritation or a rash. Some common plants to avoid direct contact with include prickly pear cacti, figs, mulberries, and saw palmetto.
Be very careful, if a thorn or spine gets under skin it can turn into a fungal or staph infection that requires urgent care.
4. Sun Exposure and Sunburn
Unprotected skin is a magnet for the sun and causes sunburn. Sunburn can range from the very mild to the severe. The best treatment is prevention by applying sunscreen on before you head outside.
A sunscreen lotion with SPF of 15 to 30 is fine and blocks UVB rays of 94 percent and 97 percent, respectively. It's not necessary to purchase those with SPF of 50 or higher. Do replenish sunscreen after swimming or if outside for extended periods.
If your skin is irritated by sunburn, you can use OTC after-sun creams, lotions with aloe or take a cool bath. Avoid any anesthetic products or as Everyday Family recommends, "Anything that ends in 'caine' because that will just further irritate the skin."
Summer skin rashes are something we all endure but prevention (or avoidance) is often the best medicine. For rashes that don't go away or become infected seek immediate medical attention.