How to Treat (and Avoid!) Summer Skin Problems
Stop that itch!
Few things are more maddening than an itch. And summer is prime time for all kinds of creepy-crawly sensations, often accompanied by mysterious lumps, bumps, cracking, crusting, swelling, and oozing (delightful!).
"Most itching has an obvious cause, such as bug bites or dry skin," says Ronald Brancaccio, MD, director of the Skin Institute of New York and clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. "But sometimes an itch or the rash that goes with it can be hard to figure out, even if it has a straightforward cause like an allergic reaction."
Treat it: Heat rash usually goes away on its own after a few days. Wear lightweight, breathable fabrics to allow sweat to evaporate, and avoid heavy creams or ointments that might block sweat ducts.
See your MD …if the rash lasts for more than three to four days, gets worse, or if you have signs of infection, such as fever or increased pain, swelling, or redness.
Poison ivy: Treat it
See your MD … if you have a severe reaction or if the rash covers more than 10 to 20% of your body. Also see your doc if the rash doesn’t clear up after two to three weeks, gets worse, or seems to keep recurring; you could be allergic to something else in your environment.
Yeast infection: Treat it
See your MD … if you’ve never had a yeast infection before (or if you’re at all unsure). Your doctor can determine if it’s something else, such as bacterial vaginosis (the most common vaginal infection among women of childbearing age) or a sexually transmitted disease.
Also check in with your gyno if the condition doesn’t clear within a week or returns within a month.
Treat it: Apply OTC antifungal creams (Lamisil, Lotrimin) as directed until the condition clears.
See your MD … if it turns into a nail infection, or if symptoms persist for a few weeks. Your MD can prescribe an antifungal cream or pill.
The raised red welts with clearly defined edges can appear anywhere on the body; they may get bigger and spread and merge with other welts, and can disappear and reappear.
See your MD … if mild hives don’t respond to antihistamines; your doc may want to rule out other illnesses or refer you to an allergist. Call 911 if hives are severe or you have signs of anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction), such as fainting, tongue or face swelling, shortness of breath, tightening of the throat or wheezing.