Keep your skin healthy this summer

The summer sun, sea, chlorinated water and insects in the environment can all have negative impacts on your skin’s health. Here are some tips to keep your skin healthy while enjoying all that nature has to offer this summer.

“If your skin is exposed to the elements at the pool, the beach or outside on a hike, make sure you take good care of it to prevent skin cancer, premature aging, rashes and dry skin,” said Geisinger Dermatologist, Dr. Erin Vanness.

Apply and reapply sunscreen

Applying sunscreen regularly is one of the best ways to protect your skin from cancer and premature aging, short of covering your skin with clothing.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using waterproof sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Look for broad-spectrum coverage that protects from both UVA and UVB rays.

Mineral based sunscreens (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) both reflect ultraviolet light and do not degrade with ultraviolet exposure. Mineral based sunscreens are also considered safer for marine life and the environment. They can sometimes have a whitish sheen and are less likely to be irritating to sensitive skin and eyes. Chemical-based sunscreens absorb ultraviolet light and do degrade with ultraviolet exposure. They are less opaque when applied, but can be more irritating to sensitive skin and eyes.

Fifteen minutes before going outside, apply a thick layer of sunscreen to all bare skin, including often-forgotten places like the tops of your ears, your scalp, your neck and your feet. Then, reapply every two hours, or after you get out of the water. Consider investing in UPF rated ‘rash-guard’ swim shirts that are comfortable and safe in the water to reduce amounts of sunscreen needed to protect your skin.

Moisturize

Though the air is less dry during summer months, you should still moisturize your skin to prevent dry, scaly skin that is more prone to cracking. Apply a moisturizer each day and after showering or bathing to lock in the moisture in your skin.

“Even though there’s more humidity in the air, being out in the sun, swimming, going barefoot and using detergent soaps are the perfect combination for drying out your skin and leaving it feeling irritated,” said Vanness.

You should also apply lip balm with an SPF to protect the skin on your lips, which can easily become chapped and cracked when you spend time outside.

Drink water

Staying hydrated all summer can be more difficult if you’re exercising, working or playing outside. Drinking at least eight glasses of water each day can help you feel healthy all summer.

Of course, drinking plenty of water will also keep you from getting dehydrated, which can lead to a headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, fatigue and dry mouth.

Wear sunglasses or a hat

Provide extra protection for your face and eyes by wearing sunglasses and a brimmed hat.

“Eye protection can also help protect your eyes from prolonged sun exposure, which can contribute to cataracts, and skin cancer,” said Dr. Vanness. “Look for polarized glasses with UVA and UVB protection and sport a broad-brimmed hat.”

Change out of wet bathing suits and workout gear

Prolonged exposure to wetness can predispose the skin to irritation and breakdown of the skin barrier. This can lead to introduction of bacterial or fungal infections in the skin such as athlete’s foot and jock itch. Keep your skin as cool and dry as possible by changing out of wet clothing and bathing suits.

Wear appropriate footwear at public pools, beaches and in locker rooms to prevent exposure to infections such as wart virus and athlete’s foot.

Apply insect repellent to skin, clothing and outdoor gear

With summer comes all the small creatures of the environment that can cause skin irritation, allergy and spread infection like Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis. Use insect repellent on exposed skin and apply to clothing as well. Consider applying permethrin spray to gear like hiking boots and camping equipment to further repel ticks (note: permethrin is not intended for direct application to skin). Check your skin for ticks after spending time outside in grasses or woods. Keep in mind that some ticks are quite small and difficult to see.

Enjoy your summer!