Summer Rash 101: Is it Heat Rash or Something Else?
Sweating, overheating, and the burning rays of the sun are all part of summer fun. But many bacteria can grow in warm and moist environments like those found in your body. Hence, most of the skin problems occur during the summer months.
During the hot summer months, many people find that they are prone to rashes. Rashes are most often caused by either contact with an irritant or by an allergy. Sometimes, not everyone is able to identify a possible underlying cause for rashes. This is why it's important to educate yourself on the different rashes that commonly occur during summer and what they mean.
Here's what you need to know about common skin rashes during the hot summer season:
1. Heat Rash or Prickly Heat
Heat rash is a common, uncomfortable disorder that occurs when sweat ducts become clogged. It appears as tiny bumps on the skin, often on body areas covered by clothing, especially skin covered by thick clothing or heavy creams.
Adults tend to develop heat rash in skin folds and areas that are exposed to friction, with clothing being the most common culprit.
Babies have a greater susceptibility to heat rash than adults because their pores have not completely developed. The rash in infants is usually found on the neck, shoulders, and chest. It can also appear in the armpits, creases of the elbows, and groin area.
Wearing lightweight, breathable fabrics made of natural materials rather than synthetics is a good idea to reduce skin irritation and stay comfortable in warm weather. To further prevent heat rash, use lightweight lotions, creams, and moisturizers.
Heat rash typically disappears within a day or two when your skin cools down. A cold shower or compress can help you reduce the temperature of your skin and soothe itching. Hydrocortisone cream can also provide temporary relief while it heals.
2. Swimmer's Itch
Swimming and water-related activities are popular summertime pursuits, but swimmers should take care to avoid swimmer's itch. It is an allergic reaction to parasites that infest the skin while swimming or wading in water. Also called cercarial dermatitis, swimmer's itch is most common in freshwater lakes and ponds, but saltwater bathers sometimes experience it as well.
It is an itchy rash that can appear within minutes or days after swimming or wading in infested water. The rash resembles reddish pimples or blisters.
Children may be more susceptible to swimmer's itch than adults, since they tend to play or swim in shallow water and their skin is more delicate.
The best way to avoid swimmer's itch is to choose swimming spots carefully, staying away from areas where swimmer's itch is known to occur or where signs warn of possible contamination. After swimming, thoroughly rinse your body with fresh water and dry yourself with a towel. Wash your swimsuits often.
The rash will disappear on its own in time, but you can take steps to ease the discomfort. Calamine lotion, hydrocortisone creams, and antihistamines may help.
3. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac
During summer, it's fun to explore the woods and be adventurous but remember to be mindful of poisonous plants! Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are plants that contain an oily sap known as urushiol. It causes skin irritation in most people. Urushiol can cause a rash to develop within hours of exposure or several days later. However, symptoms can worsen five days after onset.
Contact with this sap can cause dermatitis in humans. Any part of the body that comes in contact with this sap will result in dermatitis characterized by a red, itchy rash as well as blisters.
By taking precautions, you may be able to avoid skin contact with these poisonous plants. When you will be working in a wooded area, wear long sleeves, pants, socks, boots, and gloves. You can also apply ivy blocker for further protection.
To treat a poison-ivy rash, immediately rinse the affected area with lukewarm water and gentle cleanser to wash off the urushiol. You can use the CLn 2-in-1 Gentle Wash and Shampoo because it is designed to gently cleanse the irritated skin and scalp suffering from itching, flaking, irritation, dermatitis and eczema. Another option is the CLn SportWash, a high performance cleanser designed for physically active bodies which is specifically suitable if you encountered the poison during a sports activity like hiking or mountaineering.
For itching, calamine lotion can be applied to the rash as well as hydrocortisone and an antihistamine. Wash all objects that may have come into contact with poison ivy, oak and sumac oils. This includes clothing, gardening tools, pet leashes, and more.
In conclusion, during the summer months, there is a higher risk for rashes. It is always important to be aware of what the possible causes can be and to take steps to avoid them. There are instances when you should see a doctor as well. If you are concerned about an allergy or if your rash is accompanied by pain, contact your physician. They will be able to help you further understand the cause of your rash and give you helpful advice on how to proceed.