Hot summer days mean tank tops, shorts, swimsuits, sandals and generally a lot more of your skin showing than it normally would at other times of the year. While wearing less clothing helps to keep you cool, it often means more skincare problems for many of us. As you get ready to head outdoors to enjoy the weather this season, win the bare skin battle by being prepared to prevent and treat every type of irritation, abrasion and bite that may come your way.
The most common and, to be perfectly honest, most preventable summer skin problem is sunburn. Even though we all know we need to wear sunscreen every single day, many of us blow it off until it’s too late and we’re rocking the lobster look. Not only does allowing yourself to get sunburnt increase your risk of skin cancer, but on a very superficial level, sun damage totally ages you. Aging gracefully is fabulous, aging prematurely is not.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the use of a daily moisturizer with a minimum SPF 30 rating to prevent sun damage, especially on your face, arms and hands, because even the sun that shines through your car window takes a toll over time. If you’re going to be in the sun for a long period, go straight for the sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher and be sure to bring a hat and sunglasses.
Be conscious of how long you’ve been in the sun and take a break in the shade when you can. Of course, you’ll want to choose a natural sunscreen that's free of parabens, oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and octinoxate, since these are the most questionable ingredients as far as safety goes.
If you do happen to get burned, aloe vera gel is your very best friend. If you have a plant of your own, that’s always a great source – just break off a piece and slather your skin with the naturally occurring gel. But since it’s not likely you'll want to carry around a potted succulent plan on vacations, a bottle of organic aloe vera gel works just as well.
Heat rash is extremely common in babies and young children as well as those who have more sensitive skin. Heat rash happens when your sweat glands are blocked. The tiny bumps can become itchy and make for a really miserable summer experience.
The best way to prevent heat rash is to reduce how much you sweat and keep skin clean. Avoid or take precaution when exercising outside or letting your little ones play outside during the hottest part of the day (this is important for preventing heat stroke as well), wear loose fitting clothes, and utilize fans and air conditioning when possible.
If you or your children do happen to be prone to heat rash, take cool baking soda soaking baths to help reduce swelling and calm your skin. If the area becomes dry or chapped a plant based oil like olive oil or coconut oil will help soothe and heal the skin.
Sometimes heat rash can be really annoyingly itchy, in that case apply calamine lotion or natural anti-itch cream to help calm the area and keep you from scratching and adding to the problem.
Poison oak or poison ivy
Maybe you went camping at your favorite spot. Maybe your kids are adventurers at heart and spent the afternoon wandering around the local creek. Maybe you took a family hike and traipsed through an unbeaten path. Regardless of how it happened, coming into contact with poison oak or poison ivy is really awful. The rash can last up to three weeks and there really isn’t a cure.
There isn’t any way to actually cure this rash, but you can ease the discomfort of poison ivy or poison oak naturally. Luke warm oatmeal baths are the first step in soothing your skin, take them as often as you want to help relieve the itching.
You can make a paste from 1/8 cup of baking soda, 2/3 cup water and a few drops of organic lavender essential oil to apply to the affected area, as well. That being said, if the rash is anywhere on your face or more, ahem, sensitive areas, see your doctor for treatment.
Summer means sandals and sandals mean regular pedicures for the majority of women these days. If you opt to visit a salon to keep those toes pretty and polished, you run the risk of picking up a fungus. To lessen the risk, don’t be afraid to ask the manicurist how they disinfect their tools as well as their foot baths and make sure their licensing is up to date.
Another type of fungal infection that commonly occurs during summer months is tinea versacolor, an overgrowth of naturally occurring yeast on the skin often caused by oily skin, excessive sweating, or a weakened immune system. This overgrowth can cause a discoloration of the affected area and is another of those annoying itchy ones as well.
There are a few ways to treat tinea versacolor if you have a mild case or the infection is not anywhere overly delicate. A few drops of tea tree oil added to a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut applied to the infected skin can often remedy the overgrowth. To help prevent tinea versacolor do not let sweat sit on the skin long, take cool showers as soon as possible after exercising or sweating and apply tea tree oil daily to prevent the yeast growth if you notice specific areas are more susceptible. A dermatologist can prescribe a cream or shampoo if the problem becomes chronic.
More skin showing means more shaving. More shaving can mean more razor burn. Yay (please not the sarcasm). Razor burn is more likely to happen in more sensitive areas like underarms or bikini lines, but legs (and arms or backs or wherever else you choose to shave) are not immune.
Your best effort to prevent razor burn is in using a fresh blade every single time you shave. If you’re not made of money and don’t own your own razor factory a simple before and after skincare routine can be go a long way in reducing the red bump nightmare.
First, exfoliate the area with a dry body brush before bathing or a loofa while you’re in the shower or bath. Then, make sure you’ve thoroughly cleaned the skin and prep with a shaving cream or moisturizer. Use as fresh a razor as possible (preferably use your razor 5 times or less) – shave in the same direction the hair grows if you have highly sensitive skin.
Last, be sure to moisturize the area with a plant based oil like coconut oil to help keep the skin soft and prevent ingrown hairs.