Summer Skin Allergies

Summer Skin Allergies

How to protect ourselves?

Spring and summer are times when there are many substances that can cause allergic skin reactions in the environment — moulds, pollens, plant and animal substances. For instance, hives can be triggered by heat or sweat, eczema can worsen in the summer, especially with excess sweating while certain plants and grasses can cause skin rashes. Together, these factors can cause allergic skin conditions, as the summer is also a suitable environment for these types of diseases. What are the most common types of skin allergies that we can suffer from during the summer? How can we prevent them?

Sun allergy

Sun allergy is a term often used to describe a number of conditions in which an itchy red rash occurs on skin that has been exposed to sunlight. The most common form of sun allergy is polymorphic light eruption, also known as sun poisoning. Some people have a hereditary type of sun allergy. Some people have a hereditary type of sun allergy. Others develop signs and symptoms only when triggered by another factor — such as a medication or skin exposure to plants such as wild parsnip or limes.      

Mild cases of sun allergy may clear up without treatment. More severe cases may be treated with steroid creams or pills. People who have a severe sun allergy may need to take preventive measures and wear sun-protective clothing.

Symptoms: 

  • The appearance of skin affected by sun allergy can vary widely, depending on what’s causing the problem. Signs and symptoms may include:
  • Redness
  • Itching or pain
  • Tiny bumps that may merge into raised patches
  • Scaling, crusting or bleeding
  • Blisters or hives
  • Signs and symptoms usually occur only on skin that has been exposed to the sun and typically develop within minutes to hours after sun exposure.

Heat rash

Heat rash develops when blocked pores (sweat ducts) trap perspiration under your skin. Symptoms range from superficial blisters to deep, red lumps. Some forms of heat rash feel prickly or intensely itchy.

Heat rash usually clears on its own. Severe forms of the condition may need medical care, but the best way to relieve symptoms is to cool your skin and prevent sweating. Adults usually develop heat rash in skin folds and where clothing causes friction. In infants, the rash is mainly found on the neck, shoulders and chest. It can also show up in the armpits, elbow creases and groin. To help protect yourself from heat rash, avoid overdressing and wearing tightfitting clothes that can irritate the skin. When it’s hot, stay in the shade or in an air-conditioned building or use a fan to circulate the air and keep your sleeping area cool and well-ventilated.

Insect sting allergy

The severity of an insect sting reaction varies from person to person. There are three types of reactions – normal, localized, and allergic. 

A normal reaction will result in pain, swelling, and redness around the sting site. A large local reaction will result in redness and swelling that extends beyond the sting site. The swelling may extend about 4 inches from the sting site over a period of a couple of days. It should get better within five to 10 days. While the most serious reaction to an insect sting is a systemic allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. This condition requires immediate medical attention.

First aid is necessary to treat the condition quickly. Use a cloth dampened with cold water or filled with ice. This helps reduce pain and swelling. If the injury is on an arm or leg, elevate it. Apply 0.5 or 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion or a baking soda paste to the bite or sting several times daily until your symptoms go away.

Chronic skin conditions

Fungi, eczema and other chronic skin problems and conditions increase during the summer and patients should take the necessary precautions to avoid the condition from worsening.

Hot temperatures can also aggravate eczema. The heat can stimulate that itchy, prickly feeling those with eczema know all too well. It can also cause sweating, which may lure bacteria and unwanted chemicals to the skin. Patients can take antihistamines, which are a type of medicine that block the effects of a substance in the blood called histamine. They can help relieve the itching associated with atopic eczema. 

Sunburns

Sunburn is damage to the skin caused by exposure to UV radiation. Too much UV radiation causes the skin to become hot, red and painful. Most people who have been sunburnt also peel, which is the body’s way of shedding dead and damaged skin cells and making way for the new skin underneath. You are most at risk of sunburn if you have fair skin. But all people can get sunburn, including people with dark skin.

In advanced cases, sunburn may become a chronic condition especially for those with sensitive skin. But the most important thing is not to be exposed to the sun for long hours, especially during peak times and to use protective creams.

Freckles and skin pigmentation

It occurs due to direct exposure to UV radiation to get a bronzed skin that leads to skin pigmentation; freckles are small brown spots on the skin that usually appear on areas exposed to the sun such as the face, shoulders and chest. Common freckles themselves are quite harmless and rarely develop into skin cancer. These are particularly common in people with red hair and a fair complexion. Hereditary freckles cannot be prevented because they are genetically determined. Sunscreen won’t get rid of existing freckles, but it helps prevent new ones. You should wear sunscreen year-round, even when it’s cloudy.

Intertrigo

It is a rash that usually affects the folds of the skin, where the skin rubs together or where it is often moist. This rubbing can cause a breakdown in the top layers of the skin, causing inflammation and a rash. The breakdown of skin makes it easier for bacteria or fungus to develop in this area. The most common areas affected include larger skin-fold areas such as armpits, beneath the breasts, genital area and abdomen.

Prevention and treatment of intertrigo should maximize the intrinsic moisture barrier function of the skin by focusing on minimizing skin-on-skin contact and friction, removing irritants from the skin and protecting the skin from additional exposure to irritants.

Sweat rash

The mildest form of heat rash (miliaria crystallina) affects the sweat ducts in the top layer of skin. This form is marked by clear, fluid-filled blisters and bumps (papules) that break easily. A type that occurs deeper in the skin (miliaria rubra) is sometimes called prickly heat.

It appears in various parts of the body such as the neck, chest, back and arms, and its symptoms include a burning sensation, severe itching and pain in the affected parts, and it may lead to blood coming out as a result of severe itching.

Avoid high temperatures, especially indoors, in addition to wearing loose, light cotton clothes, while avoiding direct sun exposure, and having frequent showers in cold water are the most important prevention tips.

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