Your skin is the largest organ in the body. It is comprised of three layers: epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The epidermis is the outermost layer which is a protective barrier to outside environment. The dermis contains the hair follicles and sweat glands. The lowest layer, the hypodermis, is made up of fatty and connective tissues. All of the layers work together to provide: temperature and fluid regulation, protection against infectious agents, respiration and elimination.
Common Skin Issues During Summer
Summertime presents many challenges for your skin. From burns to rashes to stings, a little bit of prevention goes a long way to a happy, healthy Summer.
Sun burn is damage caused by the UVA and UVB rays of the sun. These rays penetrate the layers of the skin and can cause symptoms ranging from a mild redness to painful burning and blistering. This damage can cause larger problems that may lead to premature aging and saggy and several types of skin cancers.
Rashes during the Summer can be caused by contact to allergens, heat or friction. Avoiding obvious allergens such as poison ivy and oak can be relatively simple with some precautions like wearing protective clothing and staying on clearly marked trails. It becomes more difficult when it comes to contact dermatitis caused by an unknown allergen. Chlorine, sun lotions, bug sprays, etc. may be a source of rashes. It is best to look for products with natural ingredients and try only one product at a time. When in doubt do a skin test (placing a small amount of the product on the inside of the elbow and wait 48 hours) before committing to a product. Heat and humidity can cause rashes if you spend an excessive amount of time outdoors on a hot day. Be sure to take breaks to avoid getting overburdened. Friction rashes happen when one part of the body rubs against another. Lotions, powders and wicking clothing can help reduce friction to prevent rashes.
Insect bites have become a hot topic this year. From Lyme to Zika, people are concerned that bug bites have gone from nuisance to deadly. Precautions against getting bitten in the first place are very important. There are many safe and effective natural bug sprays on the market now. Reapplication is key, as any spray is only as effective as your use of it. And don’t scratch. As hard as it is, scratching spreads the irritant under the skin and can introduce infection.
Promoting Healthy Skin
So what can you do to help protect your skin in the Summer? The number one thing is prevention. This means applying sun lotions and bug sprays as directed. Wearing clothes that protect you from the sun is also an easy way to keep your skin healthy.
Proper hydration will keep your skin healthy throughout the Summer as well. It is very easy to lose body moisture in the heat and humidity. This leaves your skin loose and lacking in elasticity. Dehydration also taxes many organ systems such as lymphatic, urinary and cardiovascular. Beyond water, consuming hydrating foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and limiting salt intake can help you stay hydrated.
Bloating/swelling is a main concern for many people in the Summer. Unknown food allergies and sensitivities may be the culprit in many case. Heat and humidity also contribute to swelling through causing widespread inflammation in the cells.
Self-care for Daily Skin Health
So besides prevention, what can you do to help your skin during the Summer? Daily self-care massage can be part of your routine. In the Ayurvedic tradition, daily self-massage or abhyanga, is an important ritual for keeping healthy, vibrant skin. Click here for a tutorial and more discussion on the benefits of abhyanga.
Dry brushing can also help stimulate the skin’s elasticity and drainage of the lymphatic system. Be sure to use a dry brush and always work towards the heart (up the extremities towards the body). Click here for a tutorial on dry brushing.
Checking your health and beauty products you use daily is another easy way to make sure you are getting the best for your skin. Many conventional products contain ingredients that may dry and damage the skin cells. Be sure to check out the Skin Deep database of the Environmental Working Group to check the ingredients of your products.