Soothing Summer Skin Irritations

Lionesse Gem

Published: August 5, 2019

So many people love the summer, but, chances are, their skin doesn’t feel the same way.

The summer months can really play havoc on the skin, triggering irritations in so many different forms. Whether you are dealing with breakouts, a sunburn, heat rash, or anything else related to the season, here are some tips on how to soothe those concerns and give your skin some relief.

Sunburns

You probably already know how dangerous it is to allow your skin to burn.

After all, experiencing a sunburn just once every couple of years triples your risk of developing skin cancer. Plus, nobody wants to be dealing with the premature wrinkles, sun spots and sagging skin that sun exposure causes.  

Due to the tenderness and redness that you are experiencing right now, you have hopefully already promised yourself to be more diligent about sun protection in the future.

But how do you treat the sunburn that you are dealing with right now?

Your very first move needs to be getting out of the sun. Keep your skin away from direct sunlight for at least a few days, as any extra UV exposure during this time will only make your burn even worse.

When it comes to treating a sunburn, you need to tackle this both externally and internally.

There are several topical ingredients out there that can be really helpful in soothing a sunburn, such as:

  • Aloe Vera – the go-to botanical for treating sunburns, aloe vera is a powerful anti-inflammatory while also being packed with healing vitamins, minerals and enzymes 
  • Chamomile – this calming ingredient is also an anti-inflammatory, and contains a wide range of antioxidants that can help to treat other forms of sun damage in your skin cells
  • Cucumber – cooling and refreshing, cucumbers, along with their extract, are great for reducing the itch that often accompanies a sunburn
  • Hydrocortisone – if your sunburn is quite serious, you may need the help of hydrocortisone, which is a steroid that can reduce the pain and swelling a sunburn causes. Keep in mind that you will need to use this quite soon after your symptoms first emerge

One thing to keep in mind…

Make sure that the product you choose doesn’t contain any occlusives. This refers to ingredients such as:

  • Petroleum
  • Cetyl and stearyl alcohol
  • Vegetable waxes and beeswax
  • Silicones
  • Mineral oils

You are probably thinking…

Occlusives are great for keeping the skin hydrated, so why do I need to avoid them?

Because they work by forming a film over the surface of the skin, and this is how they trap in moisture. However, they will also trap in all of that heat that your skin is radiating, which will only prolong the amount of time your sunburn takes to heal.

You don’t need to avoid occlusives for long – only for a few days until your skin has cooled down.

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Breakouts

Ever wondered why you experience more breakouts in the summer, compared to the winter?

It all comes down to the heat…

The heat stimulates the skin’s sebaceous glands, causing them to produce more oil. This extra oil mixes in with the sweat, dirt and dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, forming plugs that clog up your pores. These blockages then lead to inflammation, resulting in breakouts.

Breakouts during the summer months are extremely common.

Acne treatments can be great for healing these, but they can sometimes take a few weeks to work.

Using a cleanser with salicylic acid can help to speed this process up by exfoliating within your pores, while retinoids also help to keep the pores clear, while re-balancing the skin’s sebum production.

Keep your skin away from the sun too, as you want to ensure that inflammation stays to a minimum. Anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as those listed in the “Sunburn” section above, can be helpful in calming the skin so that breakouts can heal faster.

Of course, prevention is always better than cure, so make sure that you are also following these tips to prevent breakouts from occurring in the first place: (Link to the How to Beat Summer Shine and Blemishes article)

  • Cleanse and exfoliate regularly, but not too much – cleanse once or twice a day and exfoliate around three times a week to keep your pores clear of excess oil. Don’t be tempted to go overboard with this, as over-cleansing and over-exfoliating can cause your skin to overcompensate for the lack of oils by producing even more
  • Use a toner – using a toner after you cleanse your skin helps to re-balance your skin’s pH level, which a cleanser usually disrupts. This can also help to re-balance sebum production, while also closing your pore openings so that they cannot emit quite as much oil
  • Use oil-free products – this applies to both your skin care and your makeup. Keep all of your products oil-free, and go for lightweight, oil-absorbing formulas whenever possible
  • Stay moisturized – water and oil are two different things, but, if your skin is lacking in water, it tries to make up for this by producing more oil. Keeping your skin hydrated with a lightweight moisturizer, preferably one that is packed with humectants, will help to keep excess oil at bay

Those steps may seem simple, but they really do go a long way when it comes to preventing summer skin breakouts.

Dryness

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Dryness is another common skin concern in the summer months.

You are probably thinking…

If the skin is producing extra oil in the summer, why is dryness a problem?

Well, as mentioned earlier, oil and water are total opposites. A lack of water is what causes dryness, meaning that you can suffer from breakouts while still having dry skin.

So, how do you soothe that dryness?

By topping up your skin’s moisture levels.

You can do this in a few different ways, such as:

  • Using hydrating skin care products – make sure that your serum and moisturizer both contain hydrating ingredients, especially humectants. If breakouts are not an issue for you, you may want to also consider adding a facial oil to your skin care routine, applying this over the top of your moisturizer 
  • Keep water temperatures down – when showering and cleansing, make sure that you keep water temperatures lukewarm. Hot water strips the skin of its natural oils and leaves it parched
  • Make sure that any products you use are gentle – this not only applies to your skin care, but to other products you use around your home too. From laundry detergents to clothing, keep things non-aggravating as much as possible. Stay away from harsh chemicals, alcohol-based ingredients and products with an added fragrance, as these can really irritate dry skin

Ensuring that you keep your skin moisturized really is the best way to counter summertime dryness. You will likely need to keep re-applying your moisturizer through the day, making sure that you do this consistently and regularly.

Of course, sunscreen is a must too if your skin is dry. The sun will only dry your skin out even further, making it important to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Ideally, try to find a rich and nourishing moisturizer that also contains SPF – just make sure that you are applying enough of the product for it to actually provide a sufficient amount of protection.

Heat Rash

Ever noticed tiny red bumps on your skin during the summer?

They usually feel pretty itchy…

This is a common irritation known as heat rash, which is officially referred to as miliaria rubra.

What causes heat rash?

It occurs when the sweat glands become blocked, meaning that the sweat they are producing cannot make its way to the surface of the skin, so that it can evaporate.

Instead, the sweat ends up trapped, causing it to spread into the deeper layers of the skin. This then manifests as those tiny red bumps.

Wondering why the sweat glands become blocked in the first place?

It’s usually down to dead skin cells building up on the surface of the skin, or a bacteria.

You probably want to know how to go about treating heat rash…

They often heal themselves, without any intervention. Those small red bumps soon burst, releasing the sweat within. This causes a prickling sensation on the skin, but does not really lead to any pain or long-term issues.

In the meantime, try to keep your skin cool as much as possible. Since your sweat glands are already blocked, you do not want to be sweating too much more, so avoid anything that may lead to this, such as:

  • High-energy activities
  • Hot temperatures
  • Tight clothing

When it comes to dealing with the itch…

There are many anti-itch products out there, but make sure that you choose one that is not oil-based.

Why?

Because the oils can sometimes block up the sweat glands even more, meaning that it will take even longer for your heat rash to heal

Insect Bites

Insects are usually out in full force in the summer months.

While some may be lucky enough to escape with just a couple of minor bites, others find themselves covered with these angry red welts.

They hurt, they itch and they look unsightly, making it important to start soothing those bites as soon as you notice them on your skin.

How should you go about soothing a bug bite?

The first step is by holding a cold compress over it. This will help to calm and soothe your skin, while reducing the itch. A cold tea bag, either green or black, is great for this, as the tea bag will contain anti-inflammatory compounds that can help to speed up the healing process.

The other anti-inflammatory ingredients mentioned earlier, in the “Sunburn” section, can also help, from aloe vera to chamomile.

It could also be a good idea to use a few ingredients that counter hyperpigmentation. This will reduce your chances of developing a dark mark on your skin after the bite has gone. Some ingredients to consider would be:

Woman applying ointment on insect bite on leg

If your bites are quite severe and are really getting in the way of your daily life, you may need to take an antihistamine. These help to lower inflammation in the body, and will make a huge difference when it comes to the itching, as well as the swelling.

You may also want to consider wearing an insect repellent. While this won’t help your existing bites, it will save you from having to deal with more in the future.

One thing that you should definitely not do, no matter how tempting it may be, is scratch at the bug bite.

Scratching a bite can cause it to open up, which not only prolongs its healing time but can also leave a scar that lasts long after the bite has gone.

Plus, the more you scratch at a bite, the more sensitive the nerves in that area become, meaning the itchier you will feel.

Wondering how long it will take for your bug bite to heal?

This really depends on so much, from the insect that bit you to the size of your bite to your own immune system. As mentioned above, scratching, or even rubbing, at the bite can also prolong the healing time. While some bites last for just a few hours, others can last for several days, making it important for you to support the healing process as much as you can.

People usually find themselves quite busy during the summer, which means that the skin can often end up neglected. Preventing a problem is always easier than curing it, but, if you find yourself experiencing one of the above skin irritations this summer, these tips should help you to keep your skin calm and happy.

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