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Skin Care Tips for the Great Outdoors

Summertime is meant to be spent outdoors. However, thanks to stronger UV rays, bugs and potentially irritating vegetation, the warmer weather can be tough on your skin. Whether you’re heading out for a Father’s Day hike, a weekend camping trip, or a beach day, you’ll want to protect your skin against the environment. We tapped two of our board-certified dermatologists Jason Miller, MD and Jeremy Fenton, MD for their tips on how to keep your skin healthy and safe all summer long.

Skincare Tips for Poison Ivy

  • Avoidance is key! Try to recognize potentially dangerous plants before you are exposed. Remember “leaves of three, let them be.”
  • If you are exposed to poison ivy, washing the area with soap and water within the first few minutes can potentially decrease the risk of a severe reaction.
  • There are some commercially available products that may lower (but not eliminate) the risk of rash with exposure to poison ivy. (Try Ivy Block or Tecnu)
  • If you develop a rash, cold compresses, calamine lotion, and over the counter cortisone creams can be used for symptom relief. If these are not effective, or large areas/blisters are noted, it is best to seek medical attention from a dermatology provider. Note that the rash from poison ivy exposure can last for several weeks in some patients.

Skincare Tips for Sunburn

  • Again, avoidance is key in preventing sunburn. Try to avoid spending time during the midday sun (10-2) when the UV rays are strongest.
  • Sunscreen (SPF 30 or greater) should be applied 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplied every 2-3 hours or following water exposure. Don’t forget the scalp, ears and neck!
  • Hats and sun protective clothing (rash guards) are effective and prevent the need to remember to reapply sunscreen!
  • If you do get a burn, symptom relief is key, including cool compresses, aloe (which may be more soothing if kept cold in the refrigerator) and NSAIDS if needed. If blisters develop, it is best to seek medical attention from a dermatology provider.

Medical Advice for Treating Bug Bites

Bug bites can be more than an itchy nuisance, they can also transmit diseases such as Zika virus and Lyme disease. Try to prevent or minimize bug bites in the first place, follow these tips:

  • Your best protection is your clothing. Wear long clothing if possible. If hiking anywhere with ticks, wear white socks and pull them outside and over your pants to block out the ticks.
  • Clothing can be treated with insect repellant called permethrin to make it more effective. You can either buy pre-treated clothing or purchase permethrin to treat your clothes yourself. (Try this spray from Sawyer)
  • Applying insect repellant is your second line of defense after your clothing. Purchase an insect repellant with 20 to 30 percent DEET and spray it on exposed skin and on your clothing. If you are applying sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first and let it dry before applying the insect repellant.
  • Keep covered when camping with tents and bed nets. You can purchase bed nets pre-treated with an insect repellant called pyrethroid to keep the mosquitos away.
  • If you do get some bites, you can use some over-the-counter remedies to help relieve the discomfort. For itching bites, the best treatment is a topical steroid cream. You can buy over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone, or your doctor can prescribe a stronger one if necessary. Antihistamines such as Benadryl can also help, but they can make you drowsy. For stings, an anti-inflammatory or pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help. Applying ice packs on all types of bites can also help reduce discomfort and bring the swelling down.

How to Treat Heat Rash

Heat rash, also called prickly heat, is caused by the sweat glands under the skin being blocked and leading to little bumps that can itch and cause a prickly sensation.

  • The best way to prevent heat rash is by allowing the skin to “breathe” and sweat naturally. You should wear loose and light-weight clothing made of natural fibers such as cotton. Keep cool with fans, air conditioning, and cool showers when possible.
  • Avoid anything that can block pores such as ointments with mineral oil or petrolatum. Keeping the skin exfoliated in advance can also help avoid the clogged glands.
  • Once you have heat rash, try to cool the area with damp cloths or ice packs for up to 20 minutes at a time. You can apply calamine lotion to soothe the itch. If necessary, you can also use an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream to reduce the inflammation. If you are itchy, don’t scratch, but gently tap the skin. Avoid oil-based lotions or moisturizers to avoid further blocking the sweat glands.

 
When in doubt, always contact your doctor for medical advice. The dermatologists from Schweiger Dermatology Group are available for video and in-person visits. Call 844-DERM-DOC to schedule an appointment.

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