By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
As Bermuda heats up, many of us will be digging out our favourite summer clothes! But for those with difficult skin conditions, the idea of sundresses and shorts fills them with more dread than excitement. Many conditions tend to flare up in the sunshine and heat, causing painful texture and rashes across the body.
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) affects more than 18million people in the US, over half of which are children. Eczema causes the skin to become itchy, dry and cracked, and is usually a lifelong condition, although many cases lessen in severity come adulthood. As with other allergic reactions, the symptoms of atopic eczema often have certain triggers like soaps, detergents, stress and the weather.
Summer can be particularly difficult when managing eczema. The best solution is to keep your body temperature low to reduce sweating. Stay in the shade, crank up the air conditioning and drink plenty of water. When you do sweat, remove damp clothes and shower off the sweat, bacteria and dust as soon as possible. A gentle shower gel like Oilatum or Dermol will get you nice and clean without further aggravation.
Mineral sunscreens like Cerave SPF 50, Blue Lizard and some of the Alba and Neutrogena products are also less likely cause problems than their chemical counterparts – make sure you opt for SPF 30 or above. A good ceramide-rich body moisturiser like Cerave Moisturizer and Diprobase will help to soothe dryness and rebuild your skin barrier, while topical corticosteroids like Hydrocortisone can help reduce swelling and irritation during a flare up. Talk to your GP if you’re struggling, as medical support and prescription treatments are also available.
Psoriasis, the build-up of excess red, itchy skin cells, affects at least 8million Americans. A highly visible condition due to its red, scaly texture, psoriasis also proves tricky in the summer months, as hot weather, the sea, chlorinated water and sun exposure can all irritate affected areas.
As with eczema, keeping your body temperature down will always help. Make sure you wear high factor sunscreen and limit skin’s exposure to the sun where you can. Rich moisturisers and after-sun lotions like E45, Cerave and Epaderm will calm skin after time outside, while gentle exfoliators like St. Ives Oatmeal Scrub can help improve skin’s rough texture. Topical Vitamin D products by Nature’s Bounty or Nature’s Truth and steroids creams like Hydrocortisone are also effective at treating the feel and appearance of psoriasis.
Even those blessed with the most blemish free skin can fall victim to body acne during the summer. The body naturally produces more oil in the heat which, combined with sweat and sunscreen, can clog hair follicles and cause everything from blackheads to painful acne.
The good news is, there are plenty of ways to keep those body blemishes at bay. Sunscreen is essential, so choose light, non-comedogenic gels and sprays like Neutrogena and Banana Boat branded products which best suit acne-prone skin. When out and about, tie up long hair up to avoid trapping and spreading oils across your neck and shoulders (making sure to use sunscreen on exposed areas), and opt for looser clothing which helps prevent sweat getting trapped between fabric and skin.
Try to shower every day – ideally as soon as you get home – to remove the debris before it wriggles into your pores. An exfoliating body wash with ingredients like salicylic or glycolic acid, such as Cerave Eczema Wash and Neutrogena Acne Body Wash will slough away dead skin cells, while facial spot treatments like Neutrogena Spot Treatment or Bye Bye Blemish products can be used on the body too – don’t be tempted to pick or squeeze! We all experience skin issues at one point or another – no one’s perfect! Do what you can to soothe irritation, but don’t let your skin stop you enjoying the lovely weather. If you’re struggling with symptoms or unsure how to treat them, have a chat with your pharmacist or book an appointment with your GP. With a little help, and perhaps a cream or two, you’ll be shining bright this summer.
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.