Don't Let The Heat Irritate Your Skin This Summer

If you're spending lots of time being active this summer, you might also be encountering skin problems as a result of heat and friction. Dr. Vicky Zhen Ren, associate professor of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine, offers tips on how to help your skin beat the problems caused by the summer heat.

"There are two types of contact dermatitis: allergic and irritant," said Ren. "Irritant contact dermatitis is commonly caused by bodily fluids, such as sweat, and is common during the hotter months."

Irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) appears as a splotchy, scaly red rash. Typically, skin damage occurs with cumulative exposure to the irritant. During the summer, sweat is a common culprit. Another common cause is frequent exposure to soap and water. ICD can occur as a result of moisture/sweat trapped under jewelry and smartwatches.

Ren advises taking off jewelry when engaging in outdoor activities and encourages clean hygiene practices with all wearables.

"If you're tracking your workouts with smartwatches, try not make them too tight around your wrist, pat the area dry when you are taking breaks, and make sure to thoroughly clean these areas with soap and water to avoid bacterial growth," Ren said.

Whereas ICD is caused by external factors, chafing is caused by friction due to skin and/or clothing rubbing against skin. Common locations include the armpits and thighs. Women can experience chafing under their breasts, especially if they are wearing constrictive sports bras. People with excessive amounts of skin folds are at a higher risk of chafing.

To combat skin irritation during hot months, Ren advises wearing loose-fitting clothing. Canvas shoes should be avoided as they prohibit moisture evaporation from the feet. Petroleum jelly can be applied to areas at risk of chafing or already chafed. Keeping the area clean and moisturized will encourage recovery.

"People with sensitive skin may also encounter irritation when swimming in chlorinated waters this summer. This can be remedied by rinsing off after each swim and ensuring your skin is well moisturized," Ren said.


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