The winter weather is melting away, and spring is upon us, but warmer weather brings new skincare problems with it. Rashes often rear their ugly heads in the spring as the sun and bloom both threaten those of us with sensitive skin and allergies.
Rashes and hives are two sides of the same frustrating coin. Rashes are usually itchy and patchy areas of skin that may also tingle and burn. Rashes and hives are generally both red in color, though hives are a bit different. Hives are red, raised bumps that crop up in clusters or on their own. Hives, like rashes, are often itchy and may experience tingling or burning. Hives usually only last about 24 hours, though in some circumstances, they can linger. Hives are not usually dangerous or at all a cause for concern beyond their irritation. There are, however, some more serious conditions that hives and rashes may accompany. If you develop a rash or hives and also experience shortness of breath, contact a physician immediately. This could indicate a more serious allergic reaction.
Typically a rash will appear shortly after exposure to an irritant. Irritants range from the things you’d expect, like poison ivy, to things you never thought of, like your own sweat or water. The truth is that about half of the rashes and hives people get never get “solved.” Finding the cause for a rash is not always an easy or worthwhile task, considering they usually go away on their own. Chronic hives and rashes are irritations that recur, and these are things you’re more likely to want to have explained. In the spring, a variety of plants are in bloom that have been dormant during the fall and winter. Things like poison ivy and poison oak are just starting to grow and develop new leaves, which cause allergic reactions in practically everyone. Pollen allergies, especially in the northeast, really start to rear their ugly heads in spring as well. While most people with seasonal allergies develop runny noses and sore throats, some people may get a rash from hay fever. While rashes are not a common response to airborne allergens like pollen, they can happen.
Since winter has thawed and given way to spring, you’re no doubt starting to feel the heat too. Heat rash is a common ailment that affects people in the spring and summer months most commonly, as the condition is caused by sweat. In very rare instances, people’s skin may be allergic to their own sweat, but this is not usually the case. Instead, heat rash or miliaria is caused by excessive sweating that results in clogged sweat glands. When this occurs, sweat gathers beneath the skin, creating a rash and causing irritation. Heat rash is sometimes referred to as prickly heat, and that’s a pretty apt description of how it feels. Tingly, itchy, and stinging irritation are noticeable symptoms.
If allergies are what troubles you, be it reactions to airborne pollen, bug bites, or certain plants like poison ivy, prevention is the best treatment. Avoid going outside during peak pollen hours. Check your local weather for pollen warnings and get an air filter for your home. Avoid bugs with long sleeves and pants, and bug spray. Avoid hiking or walking in areas with low-lying brush that could be poison ivy. Heed signs that warn of it, and wear long pants, boots, and socks when in vegetation. If you’re exposed to allergens, you may want to begin taking a daily allergy medication or apply topical ointment to treat the symptoms of your rash. Always consult a dermatologist before treating a rash with medication, as they’ll have a keen knowledge of what should work for you.
Dealing with heat rash is not always easy. Prevent it by avoiding sweating as much as possible. Wear light, breathable clothing and stay out of direct sunlight. Use fans, opt for air conditioning, and exercise outside during the cool morning or evening hours. There are some medications your doctor may be able to offer you if your heat rash is serious or recurring. Drugs that aim to prevent sweating or clear the glands may be your best bet. For serious cases, steroids can be prescribed, which help suppress the body’s immune response.
Don’t let the season of rebirth knock you down with an irritating rash. Know what to look for and how to treat springtime rashes, and who to call if you need help. The staff at Northeast Dermatology Associates are ready to help.
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