Summer skin care niggles: sorted

Long, hot summer days can do wonders for our wellbeing but they can also wreak havoc on our skin. The sun’s harsh rays combined with heat and humidity can cause it to become irritated and inflamed. Follow our simple steps to help beat seasonal skin problems.

HEAT RASH: Tiny, itchy bumps can appear when perspiration gets trapped under the skin causing a prickly sensation when they burst, which is why this condition is often referred to as ‘prickly heat’. Bumps usually appear in skin folds or areas where clothes cause friction.

Prevent it: Keep your skin cool by having plenty of chilled baths or showers. Wearing loose clothing made from natural, breathable fibres such as cotton can also help prevent blocked sweat glands

Treat it: While symptoms should clear up on their own after a few days, avoid heavy creams or ointments that can block sweat ducts during a breakout. Synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon trap heat more easily than natural fibres, so are best avoided too.

ATHLETE’S FOOT: Hot, sweaty feet are a common trigger of this fungal infection, which causes cracked, flaking or peeling skin between the toes. Minor skin or nail injuries or a pedicure with poorly sterilised tools can also lead to athlete’s foot.

Prevent it: Wearing open shoes on hot, humid days is the simplest way to keep feet cool as the mercury rises. Drying thoroughly between your toes after bathing is another good protective tactic.

Treat it: Over-the-counter antifungal creams applied as directed by your pharmacist is usually enough to tackle the infection. If symptoms persist for a few weeks, your GP can prescribe stronger medication.

HIVES: These raised red welts with clearly defined edges can appear anywhere on the body and are usually a reaction to common allergens. Animal dander, insect bites, medications, pollen or foods as well as too much sun or profuse perspiration are common triggers.

Prevent it: Avoiding hot showers, sun exposure and tight-fitting, non-breathable clothing during the summer months can help stop the little red welts appearing. An over-the-counter antihistamine is worth considering if you’re prone to hives as temperatures soar and the sun gets stronger.

Treat it: Mild hives sometimes disappear on their own within hours, but taking an antihistamine can relieve more persistent symptoms. If your hives don’t respond to over-the-counter medication, ask your GP to refer you to an allergist to get to the root of the problem.

FOLLICULITIS: Hairs grow out of an opening called a follicle, which if infected, becomes pimple-like, as well as itchy and tender. It can be caused by a number of factors, including a build up of sweat, wearing tight clothes and spending time in a swimming pool or hot tub, making it more common in the summer months.

Prevent it: Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes made from natural fabrics when it’s hot and humid, and avoid pools and hot tubs where hygeine is questionable. Avoid sharing towels, using a clean one each time you bathe will help to prevent the condition from spreading.

Treat it: Folliculitis typically clears up on its own within two weeks, though if it becomes recurrent, becomes more inflamed or spreads speak to a GP. To ease minor itching, try pressing a warm compress on the affected area.

SUNBURN: Spending too long in the sun not only leads to painful sunburn, but also increases your risk of developing skin cancer and speeds up skin ageing. The good news is, it’s easy to avoid with a few simple precautions.

Prevent it: Protect your skin from the sun’s rays with a sunscreen that offers water-resistant, broad-spectrum protection of at least SPF 30 whenever you go outdoors. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeves and trousers are other stay-safe-in-the-sun tactics.

Treat it: Soothe the soreness of sunburn and reduce inflammation with an aftersun lotion or spray. Avoid hot baths and showers until the redness and swelling have subsided and keep burnt areas out of the sun.

Herbal healers

If problems do arise, try one of these natural skin-soothing remedies…

Aloe vera: Healing and soothing, the clear gel from this cactus plant is especially good for sunburn, bites and stings.

Probiotics: Taken orally or applied topically, these friendly bacteria can fight skin inflammation.

Chamomile: A skin-soothing all-rounder, this herb is rich in anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiseptic properties.

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