Dermatology Blog

5 Things Your Skin Hates About Summer

Beware the dark side of summer. Now that we're spending more time outdoors, there are skin concerns that arise with the summer season. Here are the most common complaints we hear from our patients, as well as some helpful tips for prevention and relief.

BUG BITES
Pesky insects can ruin a pleasant time outside. Avoid bites by using bug repellents that contain Deet or Picardin to effectively bugs at bay. Be sure to sleep inside or in a screened area, like a tent. If you get a bite, wash the affected area with soap and water. "Over-the-counter topical steroid creams will limit the itch," says Dr. Cook. AVOID SCRATCHING! Apply an icepack to an itchy bite instead.
You can also try aloe vera for cooling relief or take an antihistamine, such as Benadryl. If your skin becomes red or infected, seek medical attention.

SUNBURN
The best defense is a good offense—use your sunscreen! But if you still burn despite diligent application, relieve the discomfort by taking an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen. You can also soothe the burn with a cool milk soak. Dilute a bowl of whole milk with some cold water, soak a washcloth in it, and apply for 10 minutes at a time. “The fat in the milk has anti-inflammatory properties,” says Dr. Carroll. Beyond that, treat your skin gently: Stop sun exposure; apply multiple coats of a fragrance-free moisturizer (which won’t sting) daily; and when you start to peel, don’t pick. Expect your skin to heal in about 10 days. Consider stealing an antioxidant tool from your cosmetic bag, such as Skinceuticals Phloretin CF, to reverse some of the damage done.

SCRAPES & CUTS
With increased summer activities, it's easy to fall prey to cuts and scrapes. “Clean the area gently once,” cautions Dr. Carroll. You can use hydrogen peroxide when the initial injury occurs, but it stunts healing if used longer. Stick to plain petroleum jelly and a light covering, changed daily, to prevent thick, dry, and itchy scabs. Once the skin is intact, you may opt for a healing baume such as Cicaplast B5. A little pinkness and some slight soreness is a sign of inflammation, and a normal part of healing. However, if your wound appears swollen, puffy and red, it may be infected and you need to seek medical attention.

POISON IVY
If you're allergic, poison ivy and its cousins — poison sumac and poison oak — can give you a nasty skin rash. “Protect yourself by knowing what the plants look like (in summer and as the seasons change) so that you can try to avoid them,” advises Dr. Cook.

"Be aware it's not only the leaf of the plant, but also the stem and its roots that can lead to an allergic reaction." Over-the-counter hydrocortisone, oatmeal soaks, and oral diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may relieve the itch. If your poison ivy exposure is extensive or keeps you up at night, see your doctor. You may need a course of prescription-strength steroids.

BREAKOUTS
Keep those pores clear. “Avoid oil-based moisturizers and makeup,” which could potentially clog pores, says Dr. Carroll. Choose oil-free lotions and a powdered mineral foundation instead. Exfoliate two to three times a week with a mild scrub, such as Skinceuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub or a washcloth. After exercising (or on especially sweaty days), use an exfoliating toner, such as Skinceuticals Blemish & Age Solution, to keep skin clean and fight breakouts.

Our blog is dedicated to all the latest news from Compass Dermatology, a boutique dermatology clinic located in Toronto.

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