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Summer Skin Care

It’s disgustingly hot outside right now as I write up this article.  Awfuly, sticky, repulsively-beautifully hot.  Summer is finally here!  Family beach day, park barbecue, bike riding, running: here I come!  But wait!  Not before we examine the impact of the summer sun on our skin, what causes those impacts, and what we can do to prevent problems.

The sun, for all of its earth-warming benefits, causes several problems for us bipeds.  Sunburns, dehydration and skin irritation.  Let’s get into the details.  (Don’t worry, we’ll do it quick.)

A painful reminder the sun often leaves us with after falling asleep on the beach, or simply believing ‘no, I don’t need more sunblock,’ is a sunburn.  You’ve got it easy if your skin is merely red and sensitive to the touch, but sunburns can become a second-degree burn and turn into excruciating  blisters.

Recurring sunburns (or excessive unprotected exposure to the sun) can cause some types of skin cancer, skin peeling, wrinkles, skin spots and skin irritation.  This happens when UVA and UVB wavelengths of light damage our skin cells, and in some cases, cause DNA mutations which lead to the formation of cancerous cells or abnormal cell growth.

The best way to try to prevent these bad things from happening to us and our skin is prevention.  Sunscreens, hats, umbrellas, and skin-covering clothing all play their part in preventing skin damage.  If you find yourself the proud new owner of a sunburn, the only thing we can do is mitigate pain and help the body to recover by using soothing gels, aloe vera and cold showers.

Next on our (short) list is dehydrated skin.  Irritation (again), ashiness, and skin-splits (usually on the lips) is not uncommon.  Under-moisturized skin, general dehydration and extremely dry hot or cold air are the main culprits of dry skin.

Some tactics to stave off dry skin is to use a moisturizer, lotion or moisturizing oil, aloe vera (our friend!) and drinking plenty of water.

On the other hand, excessive perspiration causes problems, too, such as chaffing, irritation, and even fungus (yuck!).  The body sweats to cool the blood by evaporation, except in high-humidity areas, the sweat can’t evaporate as readily, so it sits, and lingers, and soaks your socks and wrecks your makeup and makes us smell bad.

Prevention is always the best remedy.  Staying indoors during the hottest parts of the day, or showering immediately after a heavy sweat with an anti-bacterial or anti-microbial body wash is advisable.  If you find you have a persistent fiery itch between your toes that won’t go away, you may have a fungus.  Hit up the doc or head over to the drug store for some over-the-counter anti-fungal.

Most importantly, have a safe summer.  Protect yourself and your friends and family.  The sun can burn you and cause wrinkles and some types of skin cancer, cover yourself up or protect yourself using sunscreen.  Dehydrated skin can cause painful sores, moisturize everyday, and drink plenty of water.  If you’re outside during the hottest parts of the day, you’re going to sweat alot.  Remember to get dry as soon as you can, stay hydrated, and use an anti-bacterial or anti-microbial body wash to protect against body odor and fungal infections.