While all the great outdoor activities that summer brings are healthy for the body, your skin, the body’s largest organ, can really take a beating from sun, sweat, chlorine and humidity.
An afternoon of sweating on the golf course or tennis court may, give your heart and bones a good workout, but your skin has to accommodate the onslaught of perspiration that can cause sweat bumps on the forehead, chest and back.
“These can be very small or large, itchy blisters or red welts,” explains Dr. Helen Torok, medical director of Trillium Creek. ” Many people think that profuse sweating cleans out the pores; it’s just the opposite. Sweat and oil brought to the surface by exertion clogs pores.”
Pores actually become waterlogged and this can irritate the follicles causing a condition known as folliculitis. It’s best to wear layers of absorbent clothing made from cotton so that you can peel off the layers as you begin to perspire. Headbands can help, too, especially for children wearing helmets. For teenagers, this trapped sweat can cause or aggravate acne.
Chlorine in pools and hot tubs also wreaks havoc on the skin. Hot tub folliculitis is a common and painful condition. Dr. Torok explains how tubs usually have a higher chlorine content than swimming pools. One’s skin can become parched, dry and irritated. When the chlorine content isn’t high enough and you have a slight cut or opening in the skin, wherever the hot tub jets hit can cause bacteria to seep into your skin causing huge boils 24 to 48 hours after exposure. An antibiotic is usually prescribed to treat hot tub folliculitis.
Patients suffering from eczema and psoriasis need to be especially careful of chlorine exposure. Because of chlorine’s drying tendency, eczema and psoriasis sufferers’ conditions can actually worsen.
“I recommend changing your pool’s filtration system to salt water filtration instead of chlorine,” advises Dr. Torok. “It is so much better for your skin. Your skin will absolutely thank you for it! Your hair won’t have a greenish tint, either. Salt water filtration pools are phenomenal.”
If you are exposed to chlorine, using a deep conditioning treatment on your hair beforehand and a shampoo formulated specifically to neutralize the effects of chlorine afterward, are recommended. Also moisturize your skin before entering a pool or hot tub and make sure you shower immediately afterward.
Just as the summer humidity makes plants lush and full, it also makes foot fungus flourish. Foot fungus is just like having “mushrooms” on the bottom of your feet, says Dr. Torok, and they love moisture, heat and dark places. Foot fungus can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal creams, but often may need oral medications.