Clearly rashes can happen at any time of the year, but there are some allergens and irritants that you’re more likely to encounter in the UK’s warmer months. If you have allergies or sensitive skin then you should watch out for these common causes of summer skin problems.
Heat and Sun Exposure
Summer weather can cause various problems for our skin.
The stronger sun we’re exposed to during the summer months can cause sunburn as well as longer term sun damage that could result in issues such as skin cancer in the future.
Some people also experience rashes and inflammation as a result of sun exposure, a condition known as polymorphic light eruptions, the commonest manifestation of which is usually known as ‘prickly heat’.
Heat can also trigger skin issues, either directly or because the warmer climates make us sweat more. Sweat is an irritant so it’s common to get irritant eczemas and rashes in closed-in areas e.g. jock-itch.
Skin conditions such as eczema and acne can also worsen due to summer heat and sweat.
Protecting your skin from the sun by taking plenty of breaks to cool off can help you to avoid these summer skin problems. You should also protect you skin from the sun by wearing an SPF (read one of our articles on the correct application of SPF).
Plants and Pollen
In the summer months, it’s likely that we’ll spend more time outdoors – this means we’re often exposed to more potential allergens. If you’re allergic to a particular type of plant or pollen, exposure to it could trigger rashes and other reactions like hayfever.
There are also some plants that can trigger reactions even if you don’t have a specific allergy. For example, the sap of the giant hogweed can burn your skin and cause lasting sun-sensitivity in the affected area.
Being aware of potential allergy triggers can help you to avoid them. If you are outside more, you should also take care when gardening – wear gloves when dealing with plants like the giant hogweed.
Bites and Stings
In the UK, insects are more common during the summer months, and many of them can bite or sting us. In most cases, the effects will be mild, but some insect bites and stings can trigger stronger reactions in some people.
Serious allergic reactions can also occasionally occur, causing breathing difficulties, dizziness and a swollen face or mouth. Dial 999 for an ambulance immediately if you have these symptoms.
You might notice redness, swelling, or a rash around the bite, which can usually be treated with over-the-counter sting relief creams. If your skin remains aggravated after over-the-counter treatment, we recommend speaking to someone in our team to determine whether an appointment with a consultant dermatologist would be appropriate.
Covering up, avoiding areas where insects gather (such as around still water), and using insect repellent should help you to avoid bites and stings as much as possible.
If you’re suffering from summer skin problems or you’ve noticed an unusual rash, then you can always speak to a consultant dermatologist. We can run tests to find out the cause of skin allergies or recommend treatments to help soothe irritation and inflammation.
SHARE WITH FRIENDS
Dr Adam Friedmann
Qualifications: MB BS 1997 University of London
Dr Friedmann is a UK-trained Dermatologist who trained at King’s College School of Medicine, London. He has worked at many of London’s teaching hospitals including King’s College, St Georges, Hammersmith, Barts and the London and the Royal Free Hospitals.
Dr Friedmann is Chief Medical Officer of The Dermatology Partnership and Clinical Director of the Harley Street Dermatology Clinic.
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