Oh, the joys of summer. The sun, the beach and picnics with family and friends. The problem is, if you have sensitive skin, summer can also be a source of anxiety due to the many unknown irritants to your skin. Skin irritation seems to show up with no warning and leave you wondering what just happened. The answer doesn’t have to be spending the summer hiding from the elements. Simply knowing what potentially triggers your skin can help you stay comfortable and confident all summer long.
One primary source of potential skin irritation may be lurking in that summer oasis that lures you in with its beautiful blue water. Pools can be loaded with chlorine, a highly irritating and drying chemical. Chlorine is a type of disinfectant that keeps pools clean and free from bacteria, but as you may have experienced, it can have damaging effects on the skin. Try to find a pool that uses less chlorine, limit time in the water and always rinse off after a swim to remove chlorine from the skin and help avoid irritation.
Also, be aware of products with fragrances in them. They may smell wonderful, but synthetic fragrances in some of your skincare products like moisturizers or sunscreens can be a significant source of irritation. They can cause inflammation and weaken the inner layers of your skin.
Try to use products that don’t have fragrances, products recommended by dermatologists, or products with natural fragrances to minimize the irritation.
2. The Sun
All that time at the pool is going to leave your skin susceptible to ultraviolet (UV) rays, which leads to dryness, burning and irritation. Sun exposure without protection causes burns, increased risk of skin cancer and photoaging.
A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is essential to protect the skin from both types of UV rays (UVA & UVB). Don’t forget to apply every two hours to ensure lasting protection. And if you’ve noticed sunscreens irritating your skin, you may want to look for a mineral sunscreen, as these tend to be gentler than chemical sunscreens.
3. Air Conditioner
You can always go inside to avoid the summer sun and heat, but air conditioning can also be a source of irritation. And if you’re someone who already suffers from skin problems like rosacea, psoriasis or eczema, that cold A/C can become another threat to your skin.
As part of the cooling process, air conditioners remove moisture from the air, which can take the moisture out of skin’s surface cells, causing that bothersome dryness, itch or unflattering flaking.
If you suffer from sensitive skin but are running an air conditioner inside your home, it may be worth running the A/C at a slightly higher temperate and less frequently.
You can also moisturize your skin. By applying a moisturizer multiple times per day, you can mitigate the drying effects air-conditioning has on your skin.
Sweat is the natural way for your body to regulate its temperature. But perspiration has its problems. It picks up whatever is on your skin – dirt, dust, grime. If you let it settle on your skin, it can cause more irritation, so be sure to dry yourself off or do a quick wash as soon as possible after sweating.
If you have sensitive skin or a condition like eczema, sweat can cause burning and itching. And because there are so many opportunities to sweat in the summer, it's essential you mitigate times where you'll sweat. On the hottest of days, consider combining trips outside, wear loose clothing made of cotton, and again, stay hydrated.
And if you're wearing sunscreen with petroleum or mineral oil, you could accidentally block your pores, which can block sweat from escaping your skin. That's when acne, or worse, an angry heat rash, can appear.
So be aware of increased perspiration during the summer. Of course, you could try to shower every time you get sweaty, but even that can be problematic.
5. Excess Showering
There are three factors you should consider before taking a shower: temperature, frequency and the cleanser you’re using.
While a hot shower may feel soothing, it may also irritate your dry, sensitive skin. That’s because hot water strips away natural oils, proteins and fat that help keep your skin healthy. If you notice red skin after a shower, the temperature of your shower is probably too hot. You should decrease the water temperature to the point where your skin no longer appears red after showering. And if lukewarm showers are a non-starter for you, consider shortening the length of your shower.
Next, consider the frequency of your showers. Over-washing can lead to itchy, dry skin and even rashes. If you are experiencing skin irritation and taking multiple showers a day, you should consider only washing with cleansers for one of those showers and rinsing off for the rest.
And that brings us to the cleansers you’re using. Many harsh body-washes or bar soaps can pull hydration out of the skin causing further damage. So, look for a body wash that is designed for sensitive skin and can rehydrate it. Curél® Itch Defense® Body Wash is an excellent solution for dry, itchy skin.
If the shower is still leaving your skin dry or irritated, consider applying a wet skin, after-shower moisturizer to help restore hydration to the skin without the heavy or greasy feel. Curél® Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer is a highly effective moisturizer for dry skin.
Diuretics increase the elimination of urine from the body, so you probably already know where this is going. A diuretic like alcohol dehydrates the skin and decreases levels of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight harmful free-radicals.
We love coffee, but the reality is that caffeine can dehydrate your skin too, so like with everything, enjoy in moderation. But if you're experiencing prolonged episodes of dryness despite all the precautions you're taking, it may be worth cutting back on those afternoon espressos and take up drinking water. A minimum of eight-glasses of water a day should help you stay comfortable in your skin.
By exploring these six potential triggers and their impact on your skin, you can identify and navigate your skin’s summer stressor so you can embrace all the great things that summer has to offer.
Find more tips on defending yourself against summer's sun by clicking here.