Summer Skin by Jackie Mitchell
Sunburn, heat rashes and other skin conditions can spoil even the loveliest summer’s day.
Dr Rishika Sinha, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, says, “Despite increased awareness about the dangers of excessive sun exposure, severe sunburn does still happen. If you are taking medication this could increase your susceptibility to the sun, but more likely the cause is simply being caught out in the sun without adequate protection.”
The usual symptom of sunburn is red, hot skin that becomes painful and tender. In extreme cases, the skin can blister and you may experience headaches, nausea and vomiting. “As well as feeling unwell, repeated episodes of sunburn have been associated with increasing the overall risk of skin cancer,” says Dr Sinha.
If you do suffer from sunburn apply something cooling to the skin such as a wet towel or take a cool (but not cold) shower. “Some aftersun lotions that contain aloe vera can help to soothe the skin and I would encourage plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration,” says Dr Sinha. “Paracetamol or ibuprofen can help reduce pain. If the skin is blistered or swollen or you feel unwell, seek medical advice.”
Of course, prevention is everything. Stay in the shade when the sun is at its highest (from 11am to 3pm). For sunscreen, Dr Sinha advises using SPF50 on exposed areas of skin and to reapply it every two to three hours. “It’s essential to use enough,” she says. “The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) recommends adults should apply at least six full teaspoons of sunscreen (about 36g) to cover the body.”
‘Prickly heat’ or ‘heat rash’ presents itself as small bumps under the skin caused by trapped sweat. These usually clear up when the affected area starts to cool. To ease the condition, try a cool compress or cool shower.
Another skin condition ‘folliculitis’, (where hair follicles become inflamed), is caused by increased sweating coupled with tight clothing. “This causes small bumps on the skin arising from hair follicles,” says Dr Sinha. “They can occasionally be associated with ‘yellow heads’ or ‘pustules’ and sometimes require a short course of oral antibiotics to clear the eruption.”
Common insect bites include mosquitoes and midges. Covering up can help reduce the risk of being bitten, as well as wearing insect repellents that contain 50% DEET (diethyltoluamide).
If you have sensitive skin or are prone to acne, you may notice spots or acne as a direct result of mask-wearing during the pandemic. Dr Adil Sheraz, Consultant Dermatologist and spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation, explains that this form of acne is thought to be caused by the friction of the mask on your skin and increased humidity, heat and blocking of pores.
Dr Sheraz suggests using a barrier cream under the mask and washing your face with a water-based oil-reducing or salicylic acid-based wash and use a daily moisturiser with anti-inflammatory ingredients such as aloe vera or niacinamide.
For further information visit www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk.