A dermatologist's guide to summer skincare

28 May,2024 05:46 PM IST |  Mumbai  |  Maitrai Agarwal

From heat rashes to seasonal allergies, a dermatologist outlines how to shield you against summer heat

Image for representational purposes only. Photo Courtesy: iStock

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Summer's warmth and sunshine can bring a natural radiance to our skin, but for those with sensitive skin, it can also bring challenges. Allergies may flare, the sun's rays feel stronger, and even familiar products might cause irritation. But fear not! Consultant dermatologist, and author of Good Skin Bad Skin, Dr Ishmeet Kaur shares a comprehensive guide to shield you against summer skincare woes. Read on to equip yourself with the knowledge to identify your unique triggers, navigate the world of summer-friendly products, and establish a routine that keeps your skin healthy and vibrant all season long. By the end, you'll be basking in the summer sun with confidence, knowing your skin is happy and protected.

Understanding heat rashes

Heat rashes, also known as prickly heat or miliaria, occur when sweat ducts become blocked, trapping sweat beneath the skin. This blockage can lead to irritation, inflammation, and the development of small, itchy bumps or blisters.

Stay cool: Avoid prolonged exposure to hot and humid environments, especially during peak hours of the day.
Dress appropriately: Opt for loose, breathable clothing made from natural fibres like cotton to allow air circulation and minimise sweating.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help regulate body temperature and promote sweating.

Cool compresses: Apply a cool, damp cloth to the affected area to soothe irritation and reduce inflammation.
Calamine lotion: This over-the-counter remedy can help alleviate itching and discomfort associated with heat rashes.
Avoid further irritation: Refrain from scratching or rubbing the affected area, as this can exacerbate symptoms and increase the risk of infection.
Consult a dermatologist: If symptoms persist or worsen despite self-care measures, seek medical attention for further evaluation and treatment options.

Protecting against sunburn

Sunburn occurs when the skin is overexposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, leading to redness, pain, and sometimes blistering. Prolonged or repeated sun exposure can also increase the risk of skin cancer and premature aging.

Use sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
Seek shade: Limit time spent in direct sunlight, especially during peak hours of UV radiation between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Wear protective clothing: Cover up with lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats, and sunglasses to shield skin from the sun's harmful rays.
Be mindful of reflective surfaces: Water, sand, and snow can intensify UV exposure, so take extra precautions when near these surfaces.

Cool baths or showers: Gently cleanse the affected area with cool water to soothe inflammation and provide relief.
Moisturise: Apply aloe vera gel or a soothing moisturiser to hydrate the skin and promote healing.
Avoid further sun exposure: Protect sunburned skin from additional UV exposure until it has fully healed to prevent further damage.
Consult a dermatologist: If symptoms persist or worsen despite self-care measures, seek medical attention for further evaluation and treatment options.

Managing sun allergies

Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to sunlight, known as photosensitivity or sun allergy. Symptoms can range from mild redness and itching to more severe blistering and hives.

Identify triggers: Keep track of activities, medications, or skincare products that may exacerbate sun allergy symptoms and avoid them when possible.
Use sun-protective clothing: Wear tightly woven fabrics or clothing specifically designed to block UV rays for added protection.
Consider sunscreens with physical blockers: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide a physical barrier against UV radiation and may be better tolerated by those with sun allergies.

Oral antihistamines: Over-the-counter antihistamine medications can help alleviate itching and reduce allergic reactions caused by sun exposure.
Topical corticosteroids: For more severe symptoms, your dermatologist may prescribe corticosteroid creams or ointments to reduce inflammation and discomfort.
Consult a dermatologist: If symptoms persist or worsen despite self-care measures, seek medical attention for further evaluation and treatment options.

By understanding the causes and symptoms of heat rashes, sunburns and sun allergies, as well as implementing preventive measures and appropriate treatment strategies, you can enjoy the summer sun safely and minimize the risk of skin-related discomfort and complications. Remember to listen to your body, stay hydrated, and prioritise sun protection to keep your skin healthy and happy all season long.

Summer Skin SOS: Understanding seasonal allergies and skin reactions

Summer's sunshine can be a double-edged sword for sensitive skin. While it beckons with warmth and a natural glow, it can also trigger a cascade of allergies and reactions.
Navigating seasonal allergies and potential skin reactions during the summer months requires a proactive approach to skincare. By identifying your triggers, establishing a tailored skincare routine, choosing suitable products, and implementing preventive measures, you can effectively manage allergies and maintain healthy, radiant skin throughout the summer.

What are seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, occur when the immune system overreacts to allergens such as pollen, mould spores, pet dander, and dust mites. When these allergens come into contact with the skin or are inhaled, they can trigger a range of symptoms, including itching, redness, inflammation, sneezing, congestion, and watery eyes.

Additionally, exposure to environmental factors like sunlight, heat, humidity, and pool chemicals during the summer months can exacerbate skin sensitivities and lead to various skin reactions such as dryness, irritation, sunburn and contact dermatitis.

Know what triggers you

The first step in managing seasonal allergies and skin reactions is to identify the specific triggers that affect your skin. Keep a journal to track your symptoms and potential triggers, including exposure to pollen, certain skincare products, pool chemicals and environmental factors like heat and humidity. Common triggers for skin reactions during the summer include:

Pollen: Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds can aggravate allergies and cause skin irritation, especially when it comes into contact with the skin or is inhaled.
Pool chemicals: Chlorine and other chemicals used to disinfect swimming pools can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness, itchiness, and irritation.
Sun exposure: Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can damage the skin, leading to sunburn, premature aging, and an increased risk of skin cancer.
Heat and humidity: High temperatures and humidity levels can exacerbate existing skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea, leading to flare-ups and discomfort.
Skincare products: Certain skincare products containing fragrances, preservatives, and harsh chemicals can irritate the skin, especially when used in conjunction with sun exposure.

Managing seasonal allergies

Remember to cleanse gently, apply sunscreen diligently, moisturise regularly, and avoid harsh ingredients that can exacerbate allergies and irritate the skin. Incorporate antioxidant-rich serums, soothing treatments, and hydrating masks into your skincare routine to protect your skin from environmental damage and maintain its natural balance.

By following these tips and adopting a holistic approach to skincare, you can enjoy a comfortable and symptom-free summer season while keeping your skin looking and feeling its best. If you have persistent skin concerns or severe allergic reactions, consult a dermatologist for personalised advice and treatment options.

Identify your triggers
Understanding what triggers your seasonal allergies is essential for effective management. Keep track of your symptoms and note any patterns or specific environments that seem to exacerbate your allergies.

Limit exposure to allergens
Once you've identified your triggers, take steps to limit your exposure to them. This may include staying indoors during peak pollen times, keeping windows closed, and using air conditioning with a clean filter to reduce indoor allergens.

Use allergy medications
Over-the-counter antihistamines can help alleviate symptoms such as itching. However, it's essential to consult with a dermatologist before starting any new medication.

Practice good hygiene
Showering and changing clothes after spending time outdoors can help remove pollen from your skin and hair, reducing the risk of allergic reactions. Additionally, don't forget to take shower after swimming to remove the chlorinated water.

Coping with skin reactions

In addition to seasonal allergies, the summer months can also bring about skin reactions due to exposure to various irritants and allergens. Common triggers include:

- Chlorinated pool water
- Sunscreen
- Insect bites
- Heat and humidity

Preventing skin reactions

To prevent skin reactions during the summer months, consider the following tips:

- Choose hypoallergenic sunscreen and skincare products to minimise the risk of irritation.
- Wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and hats, to shield your skin from the sun and insect bites.
- Apply insect repellent to prevent bug bites, which can cause itching and irritation.
- Rinse off with fresh water after swimming in chlorinated pools to remove chemicals from your skin.
- Moisturise regularly to keep your skin hydrated and prevent dryness and itching.

Treating skin reactions

If you experience a skin reaction during the summer months, there are several steps you can take to alleviate discomfort:

- Apply a cool compress to soothe irritated skin and reduce inflammation.
- Use over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching and redness.
- Take an antihistamine to reduce allergic reactions and ease symptoms such as itching and swelling.
- Avoid scratching or rubbing the affected area, as this can worsen irritation and lead to infection.
- Consult a dermatologist if symptoms persist, or are not managed with above-mentioned tips.

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