Summer means outdoor fun in the sun! Canadians celebrate their favourite season by spending time in their gardens, hiking with friends and splashing in swimming pools. But with these fun activities, your skin is exposed to a variety of irritants. Here is a look at 3 summer skin irritants and how to soothe them with simple soothing solutions.
The summer sun brings a feeling of warmth and happiness as the sun hits your skin! That warmth is ultraviolet (UV) radiation; a type of energy emitted by the sun. The sun’s UV rays burn layers of unprotected skin, resulting in pain, discomfort and even blisters. Sunburns affect the first layer of skin, however the real problems occur when UV rays penetrate the dermis, the second layer of the skin. This causes deeper damage by mutating the cell membranes and this damage contributes to skin cancer.
The simplest protection against summer skin irritants and UV rays is to apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15
Wear a wide-brimmed hat and limit your time outdoors when the sun is at its hottest. However, sunburns can happen despite our best efforts to avoid them. Gently rubbing 100% aloe on a sunburn soothes sore skin. Read the list of ingredients on your aloe bottle as fragrances and other additives can further irritate a burn.
Diving into the sparkling blue water of a pool on a hot day is another part of summer fun. Chlorine kills potentially harmful bacteria in swimming pools and is the culprit behind that lingering “pool” smell on your skin. Responsible pool owners regularly test their water to ensure chlorine levels are safe, however prolonged exposure to chlorinated pool water can lead to dry skin and rashes. To minimize skin irritation, limit your pool time and be informed about the amount of chlorine used in your favourite pool. After swimming, wash and rinse your skin thoroughly with a mild soap, followed by applying a fragrance-free moisturizer.
Whether you’re in the backyard or the backcountry, mosquitoes will be a pesky part of your summer. The red, itchy welts mosquitoes leave behind after they bite are due to a chemical they inject into your skin to thin your blood (yuck!). The best defense against mosquitoes is to wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants and to spray exposed skin with an insect repellant containing Deet. Young children, pregnant women and adults with skin sensitivities should choose a repellant containing no more than 8% Deet, or look for chemical-free repellants, such as those containing soybean oil. Relief from the itchiness can be found in applying calamine lotion, mild hydrocortisone creams or ice packs to the most bothersome bites.
We can’t predict a sunny, bug-free holiday, but knowing the most common summer skin conditions and how to soothe them means that you can enjoy our great outdoors with healthy, great looking skin.