Summer may be a time of rest and relaxation for a lot of us, but that doesn’t mean our skin can just take it easy as well. In the hottest, driest months of the year, maintaining healthy skin calls for some adjustments.
The sun is around year-round, and keeping your skin safe from ultraviolet (UV) radiation should always be at the forefront of your skincare focus. But in the summer, the northern hemisphere is just a bit closer to the sun than in other seasons, and that makes a difference. Additionally, summer has us outside a lot more often and for far longer than other seasons. Sunburns are painful, unsightly and the least of your sun damage worries. Sun damage accelerates skin’s aging processes, resulting in more fine lines and wrinkles. Sun damage isn’t just about sunburns and wrinkles either -- skin cancer is most often the result of sustained sun damage. Though most people don’t experience skin cancer until later in life, 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer before the age of 70. Skin cancer isn’t usually deadly, but if it’s undetected and untreated, it can spread to internal organs and become much harder to treat. If it does metastasize to other parts of the body, it’s far more likely to prove lethal.
So how do you prevent sun damage? Thankfully you’re probably aware of a few different ways to keep sun damage at bay, but it doesn’t hurt to have a refresher. Using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is an excellent way to protect your skin. Many makeup products like foundations actually have sunscreen in them, so if yours doesn’t, opt for one that does. Additionally, avoid sun exposure whenever possible by opting for shade and staying indoors when you can. Wear hats and other clothing to protect you from sun damage as well. While the heat might mean you can’t layer up, there are a lot of clothes with sun built-in UV protection.
While the summer months in New England may feel muggy and humid all the time, there are bound to be dry days. Keeping your skin moisturized is critical if you’re going to avoid irritation and look your best. If the moisturizer you’re using doesn’t work well in the heat or feels too heavy for summer, look for something else that has similar ingredients. If you’re struggling to find something that works all the time, consult your dermatologist for advice on what might work best for your unique skin.
Many pre-existing skin conditions can get better or worse depending on the climate you’re in. Eczema is a condition that varies from person-to-person, and when flare-ups happen can also be case-to-case. Some people may experience relief with summer humidity, but others may notice that the heat and moisture actually trigger eczema, becoming itchy and more widespread.
Acne is another condition that may be made more intense by summer heat. For most people with chronic acne, their skin over-produces sebum or oil. This causes their sebaceous glands to clog and form into pimples. Sweating only makes the skin more dirty and can spread oils and dirt across your skin, clogging even more pores than before.
Heat rash, or miliaria is a condition that isn’t just limited to babies. As the weather heats up, our sweat glands produce more sweat to help keep the body cool. When a sweat gland is clogged and sweat backs up beneath the skin, heat rash occurs. The rash can look different depending on how severe it is, from superficial clear bumps on the skin to large, red lesions. Heat rash can often feel prickly or itchy, but even without discomfort it’s not a walk in the park. Cooling the affected skin and keeping it clean of sweat is usually enough to relieve heat rash, but sometimes medical treatment may be necessary. Heat rash can happen to anyone, but it is more common in people who don’t move much and sweat in the same place for extended periods of time. People on bed rest or working in heat while sitting are prone to developing the condition.
This summer, don’t forget to update your skin care, and change some priorities you had in winter and spring. If you need help making sense of summer’s many effects on your skin, call the experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates for a visit!
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