Just because you love summertime doesn’t mean it loves you back. Whether it’s through sun, sweltering heat, or swarms of insects, summer can wreak serious havoc on your skin. You don’t have to sequester yourself indoors, though—just take our dermatologist-approved advice for solving your biggest summer skincare bummers.
Let’s face it—during the summertime, sun exposure is inevitable. To prevent a burn, you should always (and we mean always) wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Apply protection at least 20 minutes before you go outdoors, making sure to cover some oft-missed areas: nostrils, ears, the area around your armpits, and on the tops of your feet and toes. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, consider wearing a hat for additional sun protection.
If you do slip up and get burned, use an ice compress to soothe inflammation and cool your skin. You can also slather on an aftersun lotion with aloe, and pop a couple Ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling. Although many people try, your topical hydrocortisone cream does little to hasten the redness or the pain. If you're not able to get relief at home, see a doctor immediately.
Hiking is one of our favorite summertime activities, but it can lead to a brush with poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac. These pesky plants are coated in a sticky, long-lasting oil called urushiol—when it touches your skin, it causes a red, itchy, blistering rash.
If you do come into contact with poisonous plants this summer, wash the area right away with soap and water. Next, treat the pain and irritation with ice-cold compresses and over-the-counter topical treatments, such as calamine lotion. While plant rashes usually resolve on their own within a few weeks, they can be extremely uncomfortable. Talk to your doctor if you have a severe reaction, or if a rash appears on your face or genitals. If you’re super miserable, a prescription for an oral steroid like prednisone might be necessary.
As for prevention: Be aware of your surroundings, and if possible, keep your skin covered. We suggest wearing a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and closed shoes if you're hiking in areas where poisonous plants grow.
Reality bites—and inevitably, during the summertime, so do bugs. Wearing long sleeves, pants, and close-toed shoes will help prevent insect bites and stings, but if you spend enough time outdoors, bites are bound to happen.
Most bug bites are more than an irritating itch—they’re actually an allergic reaction to bug's saliva, causing inflammation, redness, and swelling. Gross, right?
We know it’s darn-near impossible, but—if the bugs do bite this summer—try your best not to scratch. Scratching creates tiny openings in your skin, allowing for bacteria and infection to make their way in. Instead, clean the affected area with soap and water, then apply a hydrocortisone cream to the bite. This will reduce redness, itching, and decrease inflammation. You can also try at-home topical remedies like aloe vera and oatmeal.
Acne happens all year round, but people tend to break out more in the summertime. Why? When it’s hot outside, your body produces more oil, and you sweat more. Lots of sweat + oil = acne. (There’s also all the sunscreen we’ve been urging you to apply, which—while nonnegotiable—can contribute to breakouts.)
Regardless of where acne pops up, the treatment is relatively the same. Cleanse the affected area daily with a gentle face or body wash that contains glycolic or salicylic acid. You might also want to switch up your skincare routine, too—using oil-free makeup and sunscreen will ensure you don't further clog pores.
As you probably already know, every hair on your body grows out of an opening called a follicle. If follicles become infected, you develop folliculitis—itchy, acne-like eruptions that are commonly found on shoulders, legs, and thighs.
Because bacteria love warm, moist, dark conditions, it’s super easy to contract this infection during the summer months—especially if you frequently wear workout clothes or spandex. Tight clothing compresses the hair follicle, making bacteria more likely to grow there.
To prevent folliculitis, shower and change your clothes right after a workout. If you’re prone to breakouts, avoid wearing tight, non-breathable fabric like spandex in the summer. If you do develop folliculitis, it'll likely clear up in a few days with basic self-care measures. However, if it persists, be sure to contact your dermatologist—more severe cases may require prescription medication.