Summer is more than sunshine and sunburns. Sometimes, do you wake up mad and angry to see red itchy patches around your neck, hands or shoulder, feet or at any part of the body? Welcome to the world of skin rashes where the skin turns red and hot with lumps and bumps, cracking and crusting, swelling and oozing, scaly and itchy with blotches of blister like development which if left untreated can become infectious. Some of the related skin problems are poison ivy, heat rash, chigger bites.
All skin itching is due to a reason – exposure to sunlight, sweating, overheating, an insect/bug bite or dry skin. The skin of newborns and babies is very sensitive and hence, susceptible to rashes.But sometimes rashes can happen as a side effect of an allergic reaction, a fever, a headache, shortness of breath, or abdominal pain and these definitely call for a visit to the doctor.
Summer rashes come and go with treatment of some minor over-the-counter ointment. The following are some common skin rashes that you may come across from time to time –
- Heat rashes – also known as Prickly heat or miliaria, these are tiny pimple like bumps and sometimes painful blisters that appear on the back and chest especially in skin folds where sweat collects. Excessive sweating and clogging of pores in hot humid weather conditions causes them. Usually, it goes away on its own if the pores are left to breathe. An anti-itch cream which contains camphor and menthol or a calamine lotion takes care of it.
- Poison Ivy – Though not poisonous, at least 85 percent of people are found to be allergic to urushiol oil in poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac which are creepers which are easily around us. Brushing against or coming into contact with them while walking or trekking can result in temporary red patches that swell and itch which appear after 12-72 hours after exposure.
- Sun rash – Direct exposure of the skin to the sun or chemicals, fragrances, dyes or disinfectants can result in photodermatitis. Or develop red and itchy rashes around the neck, chest, arms and thighs called polymorphous light eruption (PMLE) which clears in a day or two though it can come back. In certain people, sunlight also triggers a rare condition called lupus which is systematic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
- Rashes from bites and stings – Sometimes painful bites and stings can cause swelling and break the skin into an allergy and itching all over the body called anaphylaxis. This definitely needs immediate medical attention.
- Skin allergies – Summer is the time when the air is full of molds, pollen, certain plants, grass and animal substances which can trigger allergies on contact. Hives (also known as urticaria) is triggered by heat and sweat and Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) gets worse in summer due to excessive sweating.
- Chronic skin problems – People with chronic skin problems find it difficult in summer especially those with eczema, fungal infections like tinea, seborrhoeic dermatitis and skin cancers.
Care and precaution
While the summer is always harsh on the skin, we must ensure all precaution is taken to counter and reduce the effects of skin rashes.
- Having frequent cool showers.
- Wearing natural breathable fabrics and loose clothing so that sweat does not clog.
- Spend time or work in cool and well-ventilated environments.
- Avoid using heavy creams or lotions which can clog the skin.
- Avoid scratching the skin in case of an irritation, it may worsen and cause infections.
- Drink plenty of water and fluids to keep the body hydrated.
- Avoid heat-generating and spicy foods.
- Avoid any physical activity in hot and humid weather.
- Consult a doctor if conditions worsen.