Summer Skin Rash: Prevention and Treatment Tips to Keep Irritations at Bay

Post Date: July 2017  |  Category: Health Tips Skin Care

Keep your skin safe this summer .

Take advantage of over-the-counter products to prevent a skin rash this summer.

Summer's warm weather lures us to linger on porches, with weekends full of adventures in the wild. By all means, get out there as much as you can: research shows that time in nature may help improve our health, and may lower our risk of developing depression, obesity, high blood pressure, and more.

Still, time spent outside does carry some risks if you don't take precautions. Heat, bugs, plants, and sun can cause a summer skin rash that can ruin your fun for a time. Fortunately, many over-the-counter products can help you spend time outside safely. By having a summer essentials kit ready to take with you when you head outside and a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home, you'll be prepared for whatever adventures the summer has in store.

Your Summer Adventure Essentials Kit

For all your summer outings, keep a lightweight, waterproof tote or backpack stocked with these essentials so it's ready to grab as you head into the great outdoors:

  • A sturdy, reusable water bottle, such as the Arrow Jug H2O Mini, filled with drinking water
  • Water-resistant SPF 30+ sunscreen, such as Rite Aid Renewal Dry-Touch Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UV light
  • DEET bug spray, such as Coleman Insect Repellent
  • A soft towel to use after swimming

If You're Heading to the Woods

Lush forest trails feature quiet beauty . . . and poisonous plants. Even a brief graze with poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac can cause an intensely itchy summer skin rash. The key to avoiding these plants is knowing how to spot them. Watch for these clues:

Poison Ivy. Look for leaves with three leaflets each, a shiny surface, and jagged edges. Poison ivy grows as a vine or a shrub and is present throughout most of the continental United States.

Poison Oak. These leaves have softer edges than poison ivy, more visually similar to oak tree leaves. Poison oak can grow as a vine or shrub and may have clusters of green-yellow or white berries. The plant is found on both US coasts.

Poison Sumac. This shrub or small tree resembles a fern, with seven to 13 leaflets running in pairs up a reddish stem. Poison sumac may have glossy, pale yellow or cream-colored berries. It's found in most east coast states, as well as parts of the Midwest and some southern states.

Safety Tips:

If you're heading out for a walk in the woods, remember to wear clothing to cover exposed limbs, such as long socks and boots, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt.

According to Cleveland Clinic, water from a running stream is an effective cleanser to use immediately after touching a poison plant. Once you're home, cleansing with Tecnu Outdoor Skin Cleanser within 2–8 hours of exposure to poison ivy can help remove the oil and potentially stop the rash before it starts.

It is also important to wash all clothing and gear (such as camping equipment) that came into contact with the poisonous plant as those items can carry the oily sap that causes the skin irritation and re-expose you.

Supplies to Keep in Your Medicine Cabinet:

When the Temperature Rises

In hot, humid weather, blocked pores can trap sweat under your skin, leading to an itchy, pimply summer skin rash. Heat rash is most likely to appear on your neck, shoulders, and chest, though it can also affect the parts of your body where sweaty skin rubs together—such as your armpits, groin, and elbow creases.

Safety Tips:

  • Stay in air-conditioned spaces as much as possible.
  • Wear light, loose, cotton clothing.
  • Bathe with non-drying soap.
  • Be sure to carry extra drinking water with you. A sturdy, reusable water bottle, such as the Arrow Jug H2O Mini, is a great option. You'll need plenty of extra fluids to replace what you lose when you sweat.

Supplies to Keep in Your Medicine Cabinet:

Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding skin products that contain petroleum or mineral oil, as these can worsen blocked pores.

When You're Out In the Sun

A sunburn can happen fast and last, causing days of discomfort, redness, scaling, and peeling. Sunburns can also increase your long-term risk of developing wrinkles, skin discoloration, and skin cancer.

Safety Tips:

  • For everyday activities, apply a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
  • If you plan to be active outdoors or if you plan to be out in the hot sun for more than a few minutes, choose a water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
  • Apply one ounce of sunscreen all over your body 30 minutes before heading outside, and reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face and scalp.
  • Sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UV light can help protect your eyes.
  • Limit direct sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Supplies to Keep in Your Medicine Cabinet:

  • Calamine lotion
  • OTC pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Aloe vera lotion or gel, such as Solarcaine Burn Relief Gel, which may help speed healing
  • Low-dose hydrocortisone cream, which can help relieve the inflammation and itching

If You're Heading Out on the Water

Swimmer's itch occurs when parasites that normally live off waterfowl and snails find their way onto swimmers' skin. They can't survive on humans, but they can leave a burning, itchy summer skin rash.

Safety Tips:

  • Before you swim in a natural body of water, check for posted signs with safety warnings.
  • Don't enter water where snails are commonly found, such as in marshy areas.
  • Rub yourself dry immediately after a swim; this simple step can help reduce your risk of developing swimmer's itch.

Supplies to Keep in Your Medicine Cabinet:

Avoiding Bug Bites

Mosquitoes: The maddening, ear-buzzing bane of summer. Sometimes it can seem as though these little critters are everywhere. While you should try to limit your exposure to mosquitoes as much as possible, this may not always be feasible. Fortunately, a number of products can help keep you safe outside, so you can enjoy those balmy summer afternoons.

Safety Tips:

  • If possible, stay inside between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear clothing to cover exposed limbs.
  • Keep screen windows and doors in good condition and repair holes right away. To safely let more outside air into your home, consider a magic mesh screen door.

Supplies to Keep in Your Medicine Cabinet:

  • Oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl

By Nancy Burtis Boudreau

 

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Swimmer's Itch FAQs

CDC, Poisonous Plants

Skin Cancer Foundation, Sunscreens Explained

American Academy of Dermatology, Don't Get Burned: Protect Yourself During Outdoor Activities

Mayo Clinic, Sunburn

Mayo Clinic, Mosquito Bites

Cleveland Clinic, The Poison Plants: Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac

Mayo Clinic, Poison Ivy

The Guardian, Access to Nature Reduces Depression and Obesity, European Study Finds

Mayo Clinic, Heat Rash

U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Outsmarting Poison Ivy and Other Poisonous Plants

CDC, Avoid Mosquito Bites


These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.