While most of us associate the summer weather with vacations and beach excursions, the season is an entirely different experience for those of us who are susceptible to skin conditions. The hot, humid air, stronger sun and other seasonal environmental factors can cause summer skin conditions to pop up unexpectedly, so it's vital to keep the most common ailments on your radar so you can respond quickly to clear them up.
Luckily, if you have a flexible spending account (FSA), you can cover a wide range of treatments for common skin conditions with your pre-tax funds! Let's explore what you and your family should be on the lookout for this summer.
Most of us have experienced sunburn at some point, which is the body's response to excessive ultraviolet light exposure that results in hot, reddened skin, itching and peeling of the top skin layers, according to The International Dermal Institute.
Treatment and Prevention: FSA-eligible sunscreen, avoiding direct sunlight for long periods of time and sun protective clothing can play a role in preventing sunburns. If they do occur, you should first make an effort to drink plenty of water as sunburn can dehydrate the body. Avoid greasy creams and lotions, and instead treat the affected areas with cold packs to curb swelling and soothing after-sun gels to ease burning and discomfort.
With all the humidity in the air each summer, dry skin may seem improbable, but seasonal factors and activities like sun exposure, swimming in chlorinated pools and being in air conditioning can cause dry skin issues nonetheless.
Treatment and Prevention: The American Academy of Dermatology suggests showering soon after swimming in a pool to remove any chemicals that may be present on the skin. Regular sunscreen use can prevent skin drying issues by protecting the upper skin layers, while using dedicated skin-nourishing sunscreen moisturizers throughout the season can prevent dry skin before it forms.
Poison Ivy, Sumac and Oak
While they are harmless to some, if you are allergic to poison ivy, sumac or oak, a substance called urushiol, found in each of these plants causes the painful rash on contact with the skin, reports The Mayo Clinic.
Treatment and Prevention: Being mindful of what these plants look like and avoiding them while spending time in heavily wooded areas can limit your exposure, as well as wearing long clothing to prevent skin exposure to plant oils. If a skin reaction does occur, the rash will usually dissipate after 2-3 weeks on its own. In more severe cases, WebMD suggests treating the discomfort with cold packs, calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream.
Folliculitis is a common condition among athletes during the summer months that occurs when the inside of a hair follicle becomes infected from excessive bacteria growth, reports WebMD. Bacteria thrives in hot, moist environments like sweaty clothing, and folliculitis can result in small raised bumps on the skin that resemble pimples.
Treatment and Prevention: According to WebMD, folliculitis will usually clear up on its own in 1-2 weeks, but recovery can be aided with hot packs and other heat therapy deliver methods to ease itching and promote the healing process.
Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, occurs when the body's sweat glands are blocked and sweat is not allowed to permeate to the skin level where it will evaporate. This can result in red bumps underneath the skin that can itch and produce a tingly, prickling sensation, reports Medicine Net.
Treatment and Prevention: Heat rash is more common in some individuals than it is in others, but the vast majority of cases are caused by excessive sweating, tight clothing that prevents sweat evaporation, and heavy lotions or creams that could block sweat ducts.
The condition will typically clear up on its own, and it can be avoided in the future by avoiding exercising in excessively hot/humid environments, drinking plenty of water, and wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
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Cool down painful rashes and bad sunburn with cold packs.