12 summer skin problems you can prevent
An itchy rash or sunburned skin can quickly sideline summer fun. You can help keep your days carefree and easygoing by learning how to prevent these summer skin problems.
1. Acne breakouts: When sweat mixes with bacteria and oils on your skin, it can clog your pores. If you have acne-prone skin, this often means breakouts.
Dermatologists recommend the following to help prevent acne:
- Blot sweat from your skin with a clean towel or cloth. Wiping sweat off can irritate your skin, which can lead to a breakout.
- Wash sweaty clothes, headbands, towels, and hats before wearing them again.
- Use non-comedogenic products on your face, neck, back, and chest. The label may also say “oil free” or “won’t clog pores.”
You’ll find more ways to prevent breakouts at:
Acne (click on tips)
2. Dry, irritated skin: When outdoor air is hot and humid, you can still have dry irritated skin. The biggest culprits are spending time in the sun, pool, and air-conditioning.
If your skin starts to feel dry and irritated despite the humidity, try these tips:
- Shower and shampoo immediately after getting out of the pool, using fresh, clean water and a mild cleanser or body wash made for swimmers.
- Apply sunscreen before going outdoors, using one that offers broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30+, and water resistance.
- Use a mild cleanser to wash your skin. Soaps and body washes labeled “antibacterial” or “deodorant” can dry your skin.
- Take showers and baths in warm rather than hot water.
- Slather on a fragrance-free moisturizer after every shower and bath. Moisturizer works by trapping water in your skin, so you’ll need to apply it within 5 minutes of taking a shower or bath.
- Carry moisturizer with you, so you can apply it after washing your hands and when your skin feels dry.
Turn up the thermostat if the air conditioning makes your home too dry.
3. Folliculitis: Every hair on your body grows out of an opening called a follicle. When follicles get infected, you develop folliculitis. Infected hair follicles look like pimples, but they tend to be itchy and tender.
- To reduce your risk of getting folliculitis this summer:
- Immediately after your workout, change out of tight workout clothes like biking shorts and shower.
- Stay out of hot tubs and whirlpools if you’re unsure whether the acid and chlorine levels are properly controlled.So many people get folliculitis from a hot tub that there is actually a condition called “hot tub folliculitis.”
Wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothes when it’s hot and humid.
4. Infection from a manicure or pedicure: Manicures and pedicures can leave your nails looking great, but they can also expose you to germs that can cause an infection.
You don’t have to give up manicures and pedicures. Taking some precautions can help you avoid an infection.
You’ll find out what dermatologists recommend at:
Manicure and pedicure safety
5. Melasma: Being out in the sun can make those brown to gray-brown patches on your face more noticeable.
There are things you can do to make it less noticeable even during the summer:
Melasma (click on tips)
6. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac (rash): Many people develop an intensely itchy rash when a substance found in these plants, urushiol, gets on their skin.
The best way to avoid this itchy rash is to learn what these plants look like and avoid them. You’ll find out how to identify these plants and protect your skin when you cannot avoid them at:
Poison ivy, oak, and sumac (click on Tips)
7. Prickly heat (or heat rash): Blocked sweat glands cause this. Because the sweat cannot get out, it builds up under your skin, causing a rash and tiny, itchy bumps. When the bumps burst and release sweat, many people feel a prickly sensation on their skin.
Anything you can do to stop sweating profusely will help reduce your risk. Tips that dermatologists offer to their patients to help them sweat less and thereby lessen their risk of getting prickly heat include:
- Wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothes made of cotton.
- Exercise outdoors during the coolest parts of the day or move your workout indoors where you can be in air-conditioning.
- Try to keep your skin cool by using fans, cool showers, and air-conditioning when possible.
8. Seabather’s eruption: Also called pica-pica, this itchy rash develops in people who go in the Caribbean Sea and the waters off the coasts of Florida and Long Island, New York. You get it when newly hatched jellyfish or sea anemones get trapped between your skin and your swimsuit, fins, or other gear.
The larvae are as small as a speck of pepper, so you won’t see them in the water. You can, however, prevent this rash if you:
- Stay out of infested water. When the water is infested, you may see a sign that tells you to stay out of the water, or you may hear about someone who recently developed an itchy rash after being in the water.
9. Sun allergy: You can develop hives (an allergic skin reaction) when you’re in the sun if you:
- Take certain medications
- Have a sun sensitivity (usually runs in the family)
If you have an allergic reaction to the sun, you’ll see red, scaly, and extremely itchy bumps on some (or all) bare skin. Some people also get blisters.
To prevent an allergic skin reaction:
- Check your medication container (or ask your pharmacist) to find out if it can cause an allergic reaction when you go out in the sun. Medications that can cause an allergic sun reaction include ketoprofen (found in some pain meds) and these antibiotics — tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline. If the medicine can cause a reaction, stay out of the sun.
- Protect your skin from the sun. You can do this by seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothes, and applying sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, water resistance, and an SPF of 30 or more.
10. Sunburn: Getting sunburn can spoil summer fun and increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Here’s what you can do to prevent sunburned skin:
- Seek shade.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeves, and pants when possible.
- Apply sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30+, and water resistance.
You’ll find more tips to protect your skin from the sun at Prevent skin cancer.
11. Swimmer’s ear: When water gets trapped in your ear canal, you can develop an infection called swimmer’s ear.
You can prevent this infection by keeping your ears dry. Here’s what dermatologists recommend:
- Wear ear plugs while swimming.
- Never clean your ears with cotton swabs because these can push earwax and dirt deeper into your ear canal and irritate your ear.
12. Swimmer’s itch: Also called clam digger’s itch, this itchy rash appears after wading or swimming in lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water. You get it when parasites in the water burrow into your skin, causing tiny red spots on areas that your swimsuit didn’t cover. Sometimes, intensely itch welts (hives) and blisters appear.
Children are especially susceptible because they tend to stay in shallow, warmer water.
You can prevent swimmer’s itch by taking the following precautions:
- Stay out of infested water. When the water is infested, you may see a sign that tells you to stay out of the water, or you may hear about someone who recently developed an itchy rash after being in the water.
- Briskly rub your skin (and your child’s skin) with a towel after getting out of the water. The parasites start to burrow when the water on your skin begins evaporating not while you’re in the water.
Caution: If your skin stings with brisk rubbing, stop. You (or your child) may have seabather’s eruption.
When to call a dermatologist
While these summer skin problems can dampen your fun, they’re usually not serious. Most go away in a few days to a few weeks. If a rash or other skin problem lingers or worsens, you should call your dermatologist’s office.
If you don’t have a dermatologist, call today 800-447-8405.
How to control Oily Skin
10 dos and don’ts from dermatologists
Although oily skin can clog pores and lead to increased acne breakouts, oily skin also has many benefits. Oil helps preserve the skin, and people with oily skin tend to have thicker skin and fewer wrinkles. The key is to strike a balance between having too much oil and maintaining your skin’s natural moisture.
To help control oily skin, dermatologists recommend the following tips:
- DO wash your face every morning, evening, and after exercise. While washing, resist the temptation to scrub your skin – even to remove makeup. Scrubbing irritates your skin, which can make it look worse.
- DO choose skin care products that are labeled “oil free” and “noncomedogenic.” This means that products that have these labels – including cleansers, moisturizers and makeup – won’t clog your pores or cause acne.
- DO use a gentle, foaming face wash. Many people believe that they need to use a strong face wash for oily skin in order to dry out their skin. However, using a face wash that is too harsh can irritate your skin and trigger increased oil production. Instead, look for a mild, gentle face wash.
- DON’T use oil-based or alcohol-based cleansers. These can irritate your skin.
- DO apply moisturizer daily. Although you have oily skin, it is still important to apply moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated. To save time and protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, look for a moisturizer that also contains a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- DO wear sunscreen outdoors. Sunscreen helps prevent sun damage that could lead to wrinkles, age spots and even skin cancer. To prevent acne breakouts, look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and do not use sunscreens that contain fragrance or oils.
- DO choose oil-free, water-based makeup.
- DON’T sleep in your makeup. Always remove all makeup before going to sleep.
- DO use blotting papers throughout the day. Gently press the paper against your face and leave it on for a few seconds to absorb the oil. Don’t rub the paper on your face, as this will spread the oil to other areas.
- DON’T touch your face throughout the day. Although it’s tempting to touch your face, doing so can spread dirt, oil and bacteria from your hands to your face. Only touch your face when you’re cleansing, moisturizing or applying sunscreen or makeup, and make sure your hands are clean first.
Every person’s skin is different, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to skin care. If you are concerned about the amount of oil your skin is producing or if you’re struggling with blackheads or acne, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.
Keratosis pilaris is a skin condition commonly seen on the upper arms, buttocks and thighs. The skin cells that normally flake off as a fine dust from the skin form plugs in the hair follicles. These appear as small pimples that have a dry ''sandpaper'' feeling. They are usually white but sometimes rather red. They usually don't itch or hurt.
Keratosis pilaris is particularly common in teenagers on the upper arms. It may occur in babies where it tends to be most obvious on the cheeks. It may remain for years but generally gradually disappears usually before age 30. Keratosis pilaris is unsightly but completely harmless. It is usually worse during the winter months or other times of low humidity when skin dries out, and may worsen during pregnancy or after childbirth.
Treatment of keratosis pilaris is not necessary, and unfortunately often has disappointing results. With persistence, most people can get very satisfactory improvement. Initial treatment should be intensive moisturizing. Try a cream such as Acid mantle, Vaseline or Complex 15 after bathing, and re-apply the cream again several times daily.
If this does not help, change to a medicated cream containing urea (Carmol, Vanomide, U-Kera, Ultra Mide, Nutraplus) or alpha-hydroxy acids (Aqua Glycolic, Lacticare) applied twice daily - it may be too irritating to use more often. More aggressive home treatment can be done if ones skin can tolerate it. The plugged pores can be removed by taking long, hot soaking tub baths and then rubbing the areas with a coarse washcloth, stiff brush, or 'Buf-Puf'.
Prescription medicines that may help include antibiotics if the spots are very red and topical retinoid creams. The retinoid creams, which are a relative of vitamin A, may cause irritation in some people. Call us for an appointment if you continue to have problems.
Corns and calluses are hard, thickened areas of skin that form as a result of friction or pressure on the skin and develop naturally to help protect the skin underneath them. Calluses can develop anywhere on the body where there is repeated friction, such as a guitar player’s fingertips or a mechanic’s palms. Corns develop due to bone pressure against the skin. They are common on the tops and sides of the toes and on the balls of the feet. Corns can be hard and dry or soft and mushy.
Here are some tips to help:
- Soak the corn or callus in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes or until the skin softens.
- File the corn or callus gently with a wet pumice stone, using a circular or sideways motions to remove dead skin.
- Be careful not to take off too much skin: Doing so could cause bleeding and infection.
- Apply moisturizing lotion or cream to the area daily: Look for a moisturizing lotion or cream with salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, or urea. These ingredients will help gradually soften hard corns and calluses.
- Use padding: To protect calluses from further irritation during activity
- Wear shoes that properly fit
- Keep your toenails trimmed: Toenails that are too long can force the toes to push up against your shoe, causing a corn to form over time. To remove this pressure, keep your toenails trimmed.
Most corns and calluses gradually go away when the friction or pressure causing them stops. However, if you aren’t sure what is causing your corn or callus, if the hardened skin is very painful, or if you have diabetes, make an appointment to see us. 800.447.8405.
- Keep nails clean and dry.
- Cut nails straight across. Use sharp nail scissors or clippers. Round the nails slightly at the tips for maximum strength.
- Keep nails shaped and free of snags by filing with an emery board.
- Do not bite fingernails or remove the cuticle. Doing so can damage the nail.
- Do not use your nails as a tool, such as opening pop cans.
- Trim toenails regularly. Keeping them short will minimize the risk of trauma and injury.
- Avoid “digging out” ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected and sore. If you are suffering from an ingrown toenail, see us for treatment.
- Wear shoes that fit properly. Also alternate which pair of shoes you wear each day.
- Wear flip flops at the pool and in public showers. This reduces the risk of infections caused by a fungus that can get in your toenails.
- If your nails change, swell, or cause pain, call us for an appointment because these can be signs of serious nail problems. If you have diabetes or poor circulation, it’s especially important to seek treatment for any nail problems. Call us for an appointment if you have any of the above problems.
Blisters are no fun!
Most of the time we often think of blisters on our feet. But these painful skin irritations can occur anywhere on the body where body parts rub together or rub against clothing. We know you can prevent blisters by preventing chafing. Pay attention to your skin and stop them before they appear. Take precautions if you know you’re going to do a lot of walking, running or other physical activity.
To prevent chafing that can lead to blisters, we recommend the following:
- Protect your feet: To prevent blisters on your feet, wear nylon or moisture-wicking socks. If wearing one pair of socks doesn’t help, try wearing two pairs to protect your skin. You should also make sure your shoes fit properly. Shoes shouldn’t be too tight or too loose.
- Wear the right clothing: During physical activity, wear moisture-wicking, loose-fitting clothes. Avoid clothes made of cotton, as cotton soaks up sweat and moisture, which can lead to friction and chafing.
- Consider soft bandages: For problem areas, such as the feet or thighs, consider using adhesive moleskin or other soft bandages. Make sure the bandages are applied securely.
- Apply powder or petroleum jelly to problem areas: This helps reduce friction when your skin rubs together or rubs against clothing.
- Stop your activity immediately if you experience pain or discomfort, or if your skin turns red: Otherwise, you may get a blister.
If you do get a blister, be patient and try to leave it alone. Most blisters heal on their own in one to two weeks. Don’t resume the activity that caused your blister until it’s healed.
To treat a blister, dermatologists recommend the following:
- Cover the blister: Loosely cover the blister with a bandage. Bring in the sides of the bandage so that the middle of the bandage is a little raised.
- Use padding: To protect blisters in pressure areas, such as the bottom of your feet, use padding. Cut the padding into a donut shape with a hole in the middle and place it around the blister. Then, cover the blister and padding with a bandage.
- Avoid popping or draining a blister, as this could lead to infection. However, if your blister is large and very painful, it may be necessary to drain the blister to reduce discomfort. To do this, sterilize a small needle using rubbing alcohol. Then, use the needle to carefully pierce one edge of the blister, which will allow some of the fluid to drain.
- Keep the area clean and covered: Once your blister has drained, wash the area with soap and water and apply petroleum jelly. Do not remove the “roof” of the blister, as this will protect the raw skin underneath as it heals.
As your blister heals, watch for signs of an infection. If you notice any redness, pus, or increased pain or swelling, call us at 800.447.8405 to make an appointment!
Skin Care Tips for men
When it comes to skin care, men have traditionally kept it simple. However, more men are now pursuing healthier, younger-looking skin, making it a great time for men to evaluate their skin care routine and learn more about how to take care of their body’s largest organ. Although there are key differences between men and women’s skin – for example, men’s skin is thicker than women’s – the basic elements of an effective skin care plan remain the same.
First, it’s important that everyone, including men, identify and understand their skin type:
- Sensitive skin may sting or burn after product use
- Normal skin is clear and not sensitive
- Dry skin is flaky, itchy or rough
- Oily skin is shiny and greasy
- Combination skin is dry in some areas and oily in others
Understanding your skin type will help you learn how to take care of your skin and select skin care products that are right for you.
To help men develop healthy skin care routines, dermatologists recommend the following tips:
- Consider product labels and ingredients:
The skin care products you choose will depend on your skin type. If you have acne-prone skin, look for cleansers and moisturizers that say “oil free” or “non-comedogenic,” as these won’t clog your pores. If you have sensitive skin, use mild, “fragrance free” products, as products containing fragrances can leave skin feeling irritated and dry. However, beware of products labeled “unscented,” as many of these contain masking fragrances that can still irritate your skin.
- Wash your face daily and after exercise:
Since regular bar soap often contains harsh ingredients that can be drying to the skin, wash your face with a mild facial cleanser and lukewarm – not hot – water.
- Watch your shaving technique:
For some men, multi-blade razors can work too well or shave too closely to your skin. If you often experience razor bumps, razor burns or ingrown hairs, use a single- or double-blade razor instead and do not stretch your skin taut while shaving. Before you shave, wet your skin and hair to soften it. Use a moisturizing shaving cream and shave in the direction of hair growth. Rinse after each swipe of the razor, and change your blade after five to seven shaves to minimize irritation.
Moisturizer works by trapping water in your skin, which can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and make your skin look brighter and younger. For the best results, apply moisturizer to your face and body immediately after bathing, showering or shaving while the skin is still damp.
Check your skin regularly:
New spots or moles that itch, bleed or change color are often early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any suspicious spots, make an appointment to see a dermatologist. Men over age 50 have a higher risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, than the general population. However, when caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable.
Wear sunscreen whenever outdoors:
To help prevent sun damage that can lead to wrinkles, age spots and even skin cancer, before going outdoors, apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin, including your scalp, ears, neck and lips. For best protection, use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating. You can also protect your skin by seeking shade and wearing protective clothing, including sunglasses that have UV protection and wide-brimmed hats.
Every man’s skin is different, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to skin care. If you aren’t sure what skin type you have, or if have questions about how to take care of your skin, make an appointment to see us by calling: 800.447.8405.