Be Well: Common Summer Skin Ailments

Warmer weather means spending more time outdoors and in the sun. Take these steps to keep your skin healthy all summer long.

Poison Rash

Urushiol, a substance found on poison ivy, oak and sumac plants can cause an itchy, blistering rash on exposed skin. The best way to prevent getting poison is to learn how to identify these plants. If exposure to poison can’t be avoided, wear long, protective clothing and be sure to shower immediately after exposure. If a rash develops, use over-the-counter anti-itch creams and gels to soothe the rash.

For Acne-prone Skin

Heat equals sweating, which can clog pores, causing a breakout. To prevent acne breakouts, blot sweat from the skin, don’t wipe it off. For oily or acne-prone skin, use a sunscreen that is marked “non-comedogenic” this means that it won’t clog pores.

Heat Rash

A wave of hot days can set this rash rampant. When sweat glands become blocked, a rash forms and bumps burst releasing the pent-up sweat. The best way to combat heat rash is to wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothes when it’s hot outside. For workouts and outdoor activities, try moving them inside or to cooler times of the day.

Sun Allergy

Appearing as scaly bumps or blisters, sun allergies are most commonly hereditary, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Another common cause of skin allergies in medications. Check prescription labels or with a pharmacy to find out if a medication requires limited sun explore or increases your risk for sun allergies.


Sunburn is painful. And while sunburn is common, it’s also very damaging. People of all complexions and skin tones should be wearing a sunscreen. Those with dark complexions should use a tinted sunscreen to hide its white residue. SPF 30 is the AAD recommended minimum for all skin types. Also, remember that lips burn, too. Wear a lip balm that has an SPF.

What to Look for in a Sunscreen

The three most important factors when picking a sunscreen are:

  1. SPF 30 or higher
  2. UVA/UVB (broad-spectrum protection)
  3. Water resistance

Dry skin can happen quickly in the heat of summer. Look for sunblocks with “moisturizing” on the label. According to the AAD, people with sensitive or allergy-prone skin should avoid products with the following ingredients: fragrances, parabens or oxybenzone (benzophenone-2, benzophenone-3, diosybenzone, mexenone, sulisobenzone, or sulisobenzone sodium).

Anyone with skin conditions should use a sunscreen that has only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

For those who burn more quickly or easier than others, sunglasses, hats and protective clothing can help reduce the severity of sunburns.