During the summer, you probably spend more time outside, enjoying the sun. For the most part, summertime activities tend to be good for you. However, there are several skin ailments that our experts at Apex Medical Center see more often in the summer.
With a bit of preparation, you can protect your skin this summer. Here are five common summertime skin problems and what you need to know about them.
You need sunscreen in the summer. There’s a short term pain from a sunburn and there’s the longer term risk of skin cancer that every sunburn raises.
Skin cancer, whether it’s basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or melanoma, is scary. It involves diagnosis, treatment, and in the case of melanoma, a substantial risk of death.
If fear of skin cancer isn’t enough to convince you to use sunscreen, then the fact that sun exposure accelerates aging might be. If you’d prefer to avoid sunspots, wrinkles, and other preventable sun damage to your skin, grab that sunscreen.
2. Bites and stings
The vast majority of bites and stings are annoying and nothing more. But some insects carry disease, and there’s the danger that a bite can become infected or that you’re allergic to it.
Most of the time you can expect a bite or sting to swell up a bit, to itch, or be painful. However, if you have any trouble breathing, or other indication of an allergic reaction, seek care right away.
Other signs that you need medical attention include:
- Lack of improvement within a day or two
- The affected area looks worse instead of better
- The bite or sting was in your mouth or near your eyes
- A larger area of several inches swells and becomes inflamed
- Pus or other signs of infection
- You have a fever or other symptoms of an infection
3. Poison ivy, oak, or sumac
About 85% of people in the US are allergic to poison ivy. And, if you’re allergic to poison ivy, you’re likely also allergic to poison oak and poison sumac, because the same substance in all three causes a reaction.
In most cases, the rash appears within 24-72 hours of coming into contact with the plant. A rash with blisters and intense itching are the hallmark symptoms.
You can wash the area with soap and warm water right away if you know you’ve come into contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Wash your clothes and shoes as well.
A cool compress may ease the itch and irritation, and a topical treatment such as calamine lotion can help. Avoid anesthetics or antihistamines, as some people are allergic to those.
Get medical care if the rash becomes severe, or if it’s in a sensitive area like around your eyes or on your genitals. A fever or a rash that covers a large area of your body are also signs that you should see your doctor.
4. Heat rash
Heat rash can appear as blisters on the top of your skin or deep lumps. It may just feel prickly and uncomfortable or be very itchy.
Heat rash happens when your pores are blocked and your sweat can’t get out and becomes trapped under your skin. It’s most likely to appear in skin folds or where your clothes rub your skin.
Most of the time, heat rash clears up on its own, when your skin cools down. However, if it goes on for longer than a few days or you see signs of infection, you should schedule an appointment at Apex Medical Center for care.
You may be wondering what moles have to do with summer skin ailments. The answer is that moles are one way skin cancer, particularly the deadliest form, melanoma, develops. If you happen to have a genetic predisposition, a mole could develop into melanoma. Moles can also become malignant if they are exposed to harmful UV rays.
If you’ve noticed that a mole on your body has changed, either in color or size, you should see your doctor. Or, if a mole becomes itchy or painful, have it looked at by a competent physician.
If you have questions about how to keep your skin healthy, schedule an appointment at Apex Medical Center. We have three locations, and you can book online or call to schedule at the one that’s most convenient for you.