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Summer Skin Rashes

Summer means enjoying the great outdoors with all its sun and fun. But oftentimes the fun can come to a screeching halt when summer skin problems occur.  We all know that sunburn is a skin irritation that often occurs in the summer, but sunburn is not the only summer skin problem.  Many people suffer with rashes during the warmer months.  Here are 3 of the most common summer skin rashes:

Heat rash or prickly heat – This is a harmless but very itchy skin rash forming small red spots in places where sweat collects, such as the armpits, back, under the breasts, chest, groin, crooks of elbows and knees, and the waist.  It is caused by a blockage and inflammation of the sweat ducts.  It is sometimes called prickly heat, because you feel a prickly sensation as the bumps burst and sweat is released.

The best remedy is to let your skin breathe. Wear loose clothing, and make sure your skin is dry and cool. For immediate relief, try a cool compress or an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream.

Plant related rashes - Many people are allergic to urushiol, an oil found in the leaves, stems and roots of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. Exposure occurs when you touch the plant directly, maybe while gardening, or indirectly, by touching an object that's picked up the oil such as on your clothing or on a pet. You can spread the oil wherever you touch your body until the oil is washed off. Two to 10 days later, the affected skin develops a red, itchy, blistering, oozing rash. It's not contagious, though you may feel like it's spreading. It’s very important not to scratch the blisters as this can cause an infection.

The best way to avoid this rash is to wash clothes, gardening tools or skin that may have touched the plant immediately upon returning indoors. In most cases, this rash can be treated at home with lotions and cool baths. However, if your rash is widespread on the face or genitals, a prescription medication may be needed to treat your symptoms.

Sun allergy – During the first sunny days of the season, some people break out with red bumps on skin that’s been exposed to the sun such as the arms, legs and face.  The rash is very itchy and uncomfortable.  It’s not always possible to avoid a sun allergy, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. If you have not been exposed to the sun in a while, you should limit your time in the direct sunlight and always use sunscreen, wear protective clothing and seek shade whenever possible.  Also, some medications such as acne treatments, antibiotics, antidepressants, diuretics, and birth control pills can make your skin more sensitive and thus more susceptible to a sun allergy.

Though there are home remedies and over-the-counter treatments for most skin rashes, some are more severe than others and require medical attention.  Call or visit your local AFC and we’ll help you get back to enjoying your summer!

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