Summer Skin Health

by Jenny Tuten

After a long winter, most of us have welcomed summer and the chance to be outdoors with open arms! However, we may not be so welcoming of all the hazards our skin has to deal with when we step outside this time of year. Here are some tips and guidelines for:

  • preventing sunburns
  • preventing mosquito and tick bites
  • dealing with poisonous plants that come with the summer months.

Read through these to help protect yourself, so you can enjoy the outdoors as much as possible this season.

Preventing Sunburns

  • Limit sun exposure, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense
  • Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside, allowing it to fully absorb into the skin.
  • Don’t use last year’s lotion. Products lose their effectiveness over time, as their ingredients begin to break down or separate. The FDA says you should store sunscreen in a dim, cool place, as higher temperatures will affect your product.
  • Sunscreen isn’t just for when it is sunny. Even on a cloudy day, 80% of the sun’s rays pass through the clouds, and skin damage will cumulate over time.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours if you stay dry during your time in the sun. Reapply more often if you’re sweating or in contact with water.

Preventing Tick and Mosquito Bites

In Arkansas, ticks are a common pest in brushy or wooded areas.

  • Avoid brushy areas and tall grass. If you have to go into these areas, wear long pants and sleeves, and tuck your pant legs into your socks.
  • Apply insect repellant to skin, clothing, and shoes. If you’re camping apply it to your tents and equipment as well.
  • In the yard, remove any items that may collect standing water, such as buckets, watering cans, old tires, and toys. Mosquitoes can breed in them in just days.
  • You can reduce the number of ticks around your home by removing leaf litter, brush and woodpiles around your house and at the edge of your yard.
  • After coming indoors, shower as soon as possible and check for ticks. Be sure to check pets for ticks as well, as they can bring them indoors and expose the family.

Dealing with Poisonous Plants

These poisonous plants are common in Arkansas’ natural areas. Teach yourself what these plants look like to avoid them.

  • Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac can give you itchy skin and a red, blistering rash. The reaction happens when oil from these plants comes in contact with your skin.
  • Teach yourself and children what these plants look like to avoid them. If you are walking through a woodsy area, wear long pants and sleeves
  • If you do come in contact with a poisonous plant, wash your skin in cool water right away. Scrub under your fingernails so you won’t spread the oil to other parts of your body. Wash your clothes in hot water to remove the oil.
  • If you develop a rash from coming in contact with these plants, use these tips to find relief: Apply cool compresses to your skin, Take a lukewarm bath using an oatmeal bath product or aluminum acetate, Use calamine lotion, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, or antihistamine.
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