Photograph: Sunscreen by ©Tierney – Stock.Adobe.com
While there’s something freeing about being able to show a little skin this time of year, the season’s soaring temperatures, humidity and blazing sun can trigger, and exacerbate, a long list of skincare dilemmas. It’s why we asked two local dermatologists to share their insight for treatment and prevention when the heat is on.
The Problem: TOENAIL FUNGUS
This common, year-round condition, which leaves nails discolored, brittle and ragged, often has sufferers seeking medical intervention come sandal season.
The Fix: Prescription medicines can help treat fungal infections, “but some have a lot of side effects and they often don’t eliminate the problem,” says Dr. Mraz Robinson. So focus on prevention to keep feet clean as the organisms that cause nail fungus often spread in communal areas. Wear flip-flops in public showers; spritz shoes with anti-fungal sprays, she says.
Tip: If you love pedicures, but worry about hygiene at the nail salon, bring your own instruments or consider booking a medical-grade pedicure. (Dr. Evans offers them at her Stamford practice.) “Make sure [the salon has] high standards for cleaning their foot tubs,” she says.
The Problem: BUMPY SKIN
Rough, red and bumpy patches of skin that tend to gather on the upper arms and thighs, are known as keratosis pilaris. While they are not unique to summer, they are an annoyance that compels many to seek a warm-weather intervention with a dermatologist.
The Fix: The good news is that these bumps can be sloughed away with a host of bottled treatments that are available over the counter. Look for creams containing glycolic or salicylic acids. Dr. Evans often recommends CeraVE SA or Gold Bond Rough & Bumpy Daily Skin Therapy. “Use these in combination with sunscreen,” she suggests.
The Problem: SUNBURN
Even the most vigilant sunscreen wearers slip up now and then. Sunburns not only age the skin prematurely, they have a strong link to skin cancer.
The Fix: While a burn means the damage is done, take the sting out by taking an anti-inflammatory pain reliever and applying cool compresses or aloe vera gel, says Dr. Evans. Also, consider taking vitamin D supplements, says Dr. Mraz Robinson, as research has shown that the vitamin can help reduce inflammation and redness.
Tip: A severe, blistery burn may require medical attention. They could be a sign of a second-degree burn, says Dr. Evans.
The Problem: TOO MUCH FUZZ
From armpits to the back and bikini area, folks with unwanted hair usually want to banish it come summer.
The Fix: Shaving, waxing and depilatory creams all offer effective, temporary fixes, but laser hair removal is the best long-term solution, says Dr. Mraz Robinson. While this approach is highly effective for some, it only works on those with darker natural hair color. It is not an option for folks with red, gray or blonde hair because lasers do their job by targeting melanin, explains Dr. Evans.
The Problem: OILY, ACNE-PRONE SKIN
“With temperature fluctuations from January to July, our beauty and skincare routines must adapt,” says Dr. Evans, who notes anyone prone to oily skin is likely to experience a shiny complexion. For acne sufferers—even those who have an effective skin-care regimen—summer can trigger flare-ups.
The Fix: Modify your regimen, focusing on lighter skincare formulations of products, says Dr. Evans. For example, substitute gel for cream varieties. Keep your hair pulled off your face. (Oily hair can aggravate acne.) Consider mineral-based makeup options.
Tip: If you see a dermatologist for acne management, summer is a great time to check in.
The Problem: EXCESSIVE SWEAT
For those who suffer from hyperhidrosis, summer means constant worry about wet underarms.
The Fix: “Botox is a total game changer for this problem, which in some people can be absolutely devastating,” says Dr. Evans. Armpit injections once or twice a year can eliminate hyperhidrosis for some sufferers. Besides this highly effective approach, Dr. Mraz Robinson says there are some excellent clinical strength anti-perspirants that are quite helpful, too.
Tip: Botox therapy for hyperhidrosis is often covered by insurance, says Dr. Evans.
By now, most of us know there’s no such thing as a healthy tan and high SPF sunscreen is a summer essential. Yet skin health experts say despite all the public education out there on the benefits of protecting our complexions from cancer and premature aging, too many of us still get sun-safety basics wrong.
Expert tips for improving your SPF IQ include:
Don’t assume that layering sunscreen with makeup that contains sunscreen increases your SPF quotient. “If you put a 15-SPF moisturizer with a 15-SPF foundation, you are not increasing the SPF levels on your face to 30,” says Dr. Evans. “It’s still 15.”
Apply & Repeat
“Reapply sunscreen all day long,” says Dr. Mraz Robinson, who notes too many people think, “you can put it on in the morning and assume you are good for the day.”
Wear a hat in the sun. “The bigger the better,” says Dr. Evans.
In sunny places like the beach or your kids’ outdoor sporting events, “seek shade wherever you can,” says Dr. Evans. “Even if that means you’re sitting with the opposing team’s fans.”
Block the Sun
Look for broad-spectrum sunscreen products that contain generous percentages of zinc or titanium. “They give the best coverage,” says Dr. Mraz Robinson.
For Max Results
Consider taking sunscreen tablets, which are intended to act as boosters to topical sunscreens.