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Summer Skin Conditions

Is your skin ready to face the elements of summer? Here’s how to protect it against everything from UV rays to toxic plants.
by Lorissa

Sunburn

Spend too much time in the sun and you’ll end up with perhaps the most common occupational hazard of summer: a sunburn. Or in technical terms, overexposure to harmful UV radiation, which can cause skin cancer. The best way to prevent a sunburn is to use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Apply it liberally to every inch of exposed skin and reapply every two hours (or after swimming / excessively sweating). Seek shade under a tree or umbrella, especially between the peak hours of 10 am and 4 pm (even on cloudy or cool days) and keep in mind that sand and water can intensify UV rays. Cover your body—and cover your babies and toddlers—with wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses that have UVA and UVB protection, long-sleeved shirts, and pants. (The higher the UPF, the darker the clothing, and the tighter the weave, the better the protection.) If you get sunburned, go indoors and take a cool bath or shower to relieve the pain, then apply moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy. Drink lots of water and consider Tylenol or Ibuprofen to help reduce any swelling or discomfort. If you have to go back outdoors, make sure you cover the entire sunburned area.

Call us if you get blisters from sunburn, experience severe swelling, show signs of infection, experience worsening pain, nausea, or chills, have vision changes, confusion, or a high fever.

Rashes

Getting a rash from poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac is practically a rite of summer—but it doesn’t have to be. First, learn to ID the three different plants, which all contain the oily resin urushiol, aka the stuff that gets on your skin and causes an itchy rash that can last for weeks.

When in areas where the plants are present, wear long sleeves, long pants, and gloves. If you do come into contact these plants neutralize urushiol by washing your skin right away will reduce your chances of getting a rash. While it eventually goes away on its own, you can help the itching by soaking the area in a cool-water bath with a half-cup of baking soda or an oatmeal-based bath product; placing cool, wet compresses on the area for 30 minutes several times a day; or applying an over-the-counter cortisone cream, ointment, or calamine lotion. You can also try an oral antihistamine like Benadryl. For a severe or widespread rash (especially if it’s on your face or genitals), you might need a prescription medication, which we can always help with.

Call 911 or go to the ER if you feel faint or have trouble breathing. Call our 24/7 medical hotline if you’re experiencing nausea, fever, shortness of breath, extreme soreness at the rash site, or swollen lymph nodes.

Moles

In addition to following the sun guidelines above, always keep an eye on your moles and sunspots for early signs of melanoma. The earlier you catch it, the better chance you have of treating it. Examine your skin regularly (including places like your scalp, armpits, and other hard-to-reach areas) and look for the warning signs ABCDE: asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation, diameter (larger than a pencil eraser), and evolution or change over time (size, shape, color, height, or even itchiness). If you notice anything concerning—especially if you have a personal or family history of skin cancer—call us anytime and we’ll get you an expedited appointment with a leading dermatologist.

Sollis Health is a 24/7 doctor, private ER and concierge service rolled into one. Whether it’s an emergency or simply to diagnose the symptoms that you typically Google in the middle of the night, our emergency-trained doctors are ready for anything. Interested in becoming a Sollis member?

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