The summers really are getting hotter, and down here in South Texas, drier too. Our skin does not appreciate this nonsense. In addition to sunburns and heat exhaustion, being in excessive heat can cause a host of other issues with our outermost bodily organ. Let's take a look at five of the most common sun-induced, unwanted conditions:
Heat bumps. These little areas of inflammation can occur anywhere on your body and come from a couple of different reasons. A heat rash can occur anywhere on your body. This will tend to be red and possibly itchy. You will usually see it in the creases of your skin, like your knee pits or neck folds. Another cause of this is fungus. At all times we have fungus on our skin. It's weird, yes, but it's there. However when we become sweaty, this fungus can grow beyond what our skin is used to, causing it to become irritated. It's like when you let a friend stay on your couch for a little bit. It's ok when its just her, but when she lets her loser boyfriend come on over and chill and he invites a couple of his buddies to have a beer and play video games... it just becomes too much, and you start to get irritated.
Clogged pores. A couple of things have to happen for clogged pores to become a reality on your skin. You have to have oil and you have to have dead skin. Now, normally our oil flows up our pores and spreads out nice and evenly over our skin to create that safe, warm blanket we call an acid mantle. But what can happen is our skin and our skin's oil can become dehydrated. This will cause our oil to lose its viscosity. It won't move as easily and our dead skin will get stuck in this sticky, gooey plug.
Redness/flushing. Heat is a vascular dilator. What this means is heat causes our blood vessels to widen, or dilate. This is how our body releases some of its heat. What does that mean for your skin? It flushes. The blood rushes to the surface to try and release this burning sauna of a body temperature the summer sun has created. Most of the time, this isn't really a big deal. But if you struggle with a rosacea type condition or couprose skin, the dilation can be sever enough to rupture capillaries, causing permanent redness in some areas.
Back/chest acne. Heat causes sweat. For some people, this causes acne. This acne can
be severe enough to become cystic pretty quickly. The inflammation caused by the heat and the sweat may go deep down into the follicle itself, making large nodules that can be quite painful.
Dehydration. Oh yes, not only does the heat cause dehydration, but our air conditioning causes dehydration. So even if you're not outside running around, just sitting in your office under the air conditioning is taking water out of your skin too. A complete damned if you do, damned if you don't!
So what can you do to help your skin during the heat? Here's a few suggestions:
Hydrate, of course. You will have to hydrate more during the summer months, even if you're spending most your time indoors. Remember, air conditioning works by removing the moisture from the air.
Aloe. I cannot recommend this little succulent enough. Use skin care products with it. Drink it. Yes, drink it. Not only will it help to hydrate you, it will also help heal your tummy.
Cold compresses. If you're a flusher, cold compresses can be your best friend. Use healing herbs like calendula, lavender, and dandelion root. Put your compress in a zip lock bag and stash them in the fridge for use later when you're coming in out of the heat.
Peppermint spritz. Peppermint sprayed on the skin has a cooling affect and helps drop your skin's temperature temporarily. You can make your own spritzes with distilled water and peppermint, about 5 drops to every ounce of water. Don't spray it in your eyes ever or on your face if you have sensitive skin. Owie and itchy, do not recommend.
Wipe your skin. Use a witch hazel wipe to wipe your skin down if you've been sweating. Try not to let the evaporated sweat and salt sit on your skin if your skin becomes irritated quickly.
All right, there's my summer skin survival guide! I hope it gets you through these outrageous sun searing months until we get back into the absolute best season of the year IMHO, which is of course, FALL!!!! Just keep thinking about pumpkins and crunchy leaves and cool breezes!