Summer Skin Savers

After counting down the days until summer, the warm weather is finally here! But it’s hard to enjoy the season’s skimpier fashions if your skin isn’t up to par. Ingrown hairs, body acne, and sunburn can take the fun out of the season. Get ready for the shortest shorts and the tiniest tanks with this guide to summer skin care.

Body Acne
Acne can make even the most confident people feel self-conscious—especially when it occurs on the body. "Backne" (acne on the back) is common among men and women, but you can get pimples almost anywhere on the body if your pores become clogged and infected.
  • What causes it? Hot, humid weather often prompts the production of excess oil, resulting in acne on the back and chest, which can take longer to heal than facial pimples.
  • What prevents it? Wear loose clothing made with moisture-wicking fabric to help release trapped moisture before it can contribute to the problem. Sweating in the summer sun can clog pores faster than you're able to get to the shower, so clean up as soon as you're done exercising and spending time in the heat.
  • What eliminates it? Treat body acne with a medicated body wash containing salicylic or glycolic acid to help unplug pores. Consider applying a light layer of tea tree oil directly onto the acne for a naturally-antibacterial treatment.
Dry Skin
Summer fashions for men and women expose more skin than during the cooler months. So make sure your skin looks healthy, not dry and flaky.
  • What causes it? Sun exposure, tanning, dehydration and repeated dips in the pool can leave your skin dry and flaky.
  • What prevents it? Exfoliating and moisturizing regularly can help keep skin in tip-top condition. Be careful when selecting an exfoliating product—it's easy to go overboard and treat the skin too roughly.
  • What eliminates it? Combat the flakes with physical or chemical exfoliation once or twice a week. Physical exfoliants include facial scrubs and buffer pads. Stay away from products containing ground up nut shells, which can damage skin with their jagged edges. Instead try a product with exfoliating beads, which are round and much gentler. Chemical exfoliation uses alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids to loosen and remove dead skin cells. After exfoliating, always apply a moisturizer that won’t clog pores or cause breakouts. Gel formulas are especially light and refreshing for the summer—store them in the refrigerator for a cool burst every time you use them.
Ingrown Hairs
Many women need to clean up their bikini line before hitting the beach, but nothing spoils the look like red, irritated skin. Ingrown hairs, or razor bumps, occur when the shaved or waxed hair gets trapped inside the hair follicle and grows back down into the skin.
  • What causes it? Ingrown hairs commonly result when skin is shaved too closely.
  • What prevents it? To avoid this, don’t pull the skin too taut when your shave; shave in the direction of your hair growth; and apply light (not heavy) pressure on the blades. If you are prone to ingrown hairs, visit your dermatologist for advice and ask about options for permanent removal options, such as laser hair removal.
  • What eliminates it? If you already have ingrown hairs, use a product containing salicylic acid or glycolic acid to exfoliate the upper layers of dead skin around the trapped hair. Then, use tweezers to gently lift the hair out of the follicle without removing it completely. Dab a cream with lactic acid directly onto the razor bumps to help soften the skin so the hair can emerge.
Poison Ivy
Summer means spending more time outdoors, but practice caution while hiking and camping. Poison ivy is found throughout the United States and Canada, and nothing will ruin a vacation faster than an itchy, uncomfortable rash.
  • What causes it? Contact with poison ivy can result in a rash. Even if it doesn't directly touch your skin, you can still pick it up from petting your dog or touching clothing that was exposed to the plant.
  • What prevents it? The best way to prevent poison ivy rash is to avoid the plant altogether. Familiarize yourself with what it looks like (its three leaves are a good giveaway), and try to cover up your skin when in wooded areas where the plant thrives. If you’ve been exposed to this three-leafed plant, immediately wash everything that may have come in contact with it. The oil can remain active for quite some time on fabric and other objects.
  • What eliminates it? Apply a cool, wet compress to relieve the itching. Add ground oatmeal or baking soda to your bathwater to ease the discomfort, or make a paste with either of these ingredients (mixed with a small amount of water) and apply it directly to the rash. Leave the rash open to the air to help it heal. Consider using a lotion with ingredients that dry up blisters and speed healing, such as calamine, alcohol, and zinc acetate. Don’t break the blisters as this may cause infection. If you are extremely uncomfortable, talk to your doctor about taking an oral antihistamine to relieve the itch but avoid the topical variety—they are not as effective and may cause a rash of their own.
If too much sun has left your skin blistered and considerably painful, seek medical attention. If the sunburn is accompanied by fever, dehydration and nausea, you could have sun poisoning.
  • What causes it? Whether tanning under the sun or the glow of a tanning bed, excessive exposure to the sun or ultraviolet light can cause sunburn. The skin "burns" because your body isn't able to make enough melanin to protect the skin.
  • What prevents it? Health experts advise against indoor tanning entirely. But when spending time outdoors, apply sunscreen regularly, wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat, and limit your skin exposure to prevent sunburn from occurring.
  • What eliminates it? If your symptoms aren’t severe, you can treat the burn yourself with cold compresses, which help reduce the skin’s surface temperature. Apply a layer of pure aloe gel, calamine lotion (if the burn is itchy) and a gentle, non-scented lotion (to help prevent peeling). Be careful not to scratch the itchy areas as this may cause infection. Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcohol, which can dehydrate the skin even more. If the pain is severe, ask your doctor about aspirin (not for use in children under 12), ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain medication.
By following these tips, you'll be ready to show some skin, all summer long!
Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints

Member Comments

Good article. Report
I didn't know they had shot now for poison ivy. I was still using the lotion. Thanks. Report
I have an issue with this line in the story:

"If you are prone to ingrown hairs, visit your dermatologist for advice and ask about options for permanent removal options, such as laser hair removal."

Laser hair removal is NOT permanent. It is only FDA approved for hair reduction. The ONLY approved method of permanent hair removal is electrolysis.

Other than that, excellent article :) Report
I bought some locally at a chain store (Zellers) some years ago and it did NOT work as advertised (I ended up going to a specialist and missing nearly a month of work on sick leave). Report
The Body Shop has a whole line of Tea Tree oil products. They sell the oil by itself and also sell other lotions and such with it in it.

I see no one has commented on ingrown hairs yet. I used to have a major problem with them. I found I have a hard time shaving so I bought an epilator and I haven't had any problems since! Report
Tea Tree oil is an aromatherapy oil use for first aid and skincare so you can normally find it in chemists, health stores and "New Age" type shops. Report
I've never heard of Tea Tree Oil.... Anyone know where I can find/get it?
MGAEDDERT, would you mind sharing your source? :) Report
Hi Arbonnegirl;
I would like to find this soap for a co worker, who's son suffers realy bad from poison ivy .
You said it was Burts Bees Poison Ivy Soap.
I live in Canada so is it sold here?
May be at a health food store.
Is it purchased on line as well.
Lynda Report
Regarding poison ivy. If you get it on your legs or feet, get rid of the shoes/socks you were wearing at the time. A few years ago, I was wearing sandals and inadvertently came into contact with poison ivy. I treated it with Zanfel, and it cleared up after a while. I couldn't wear those sandals because they rubbed my feet where I had the rash.

A couple of weeks later, after it had cleared up, I wore those sandals again - and got poison ivy again. I did not know that the oils from the poison ivy would stay on the leather straps of my sandals. Needless to say, the sandals went into the garbage!!! Report
I can second the comment re: Zanfel. It is the cure for poison ivy. Some pharmacies keep it behind the counter so if you don't see it on the shelf, ask for it. Note that Zanfel is very $15-20 per ounce of cream. HOWEVER, it is absolutely worth it!. Stops the itch and cures the poison ivy. If you've ever suffered through a bad, spreading case of poison ivy, you know how desperate you are for relief. You will love the Zanfel.

There are shots now for poison ivy desensitization.

Nelson Lee Novick, MD, has written some very helpful books on skin care.

Okay, this thing about poison ivy and "three leaves" drives me crazy. Like any plant of considerable size, poison ivy will have many more than three leaves. What's distinctive about it is that each leaf is divided into three sub-leaves. The technical term is "leafLETS."
The mnemonic from Girl Scouts is "Leaflets three, leave it be." BTW, this works for poison oak as well, the big difference here is pointed vs. rounded leaves; poison oak leaflets are rounded. It doesn't work for poison sumac AFAIK. Report
I found a great product to keep poison ivy from advancing after I've come in contact with it. (I live with it all around me!) Burt's Bees Poison Ivy Soap can be used repeatedly to dry it up. I never have more than a little spot or two. Before I found this soap, it would spread so badly on me that I would have to go to the doctor. I even believe that over the years of using the soap, I am not as allergic as I used to be. The soap does not show great results if you already have a bad case of Poison Ivy, but it might be soothing. It's best to prevent it from worsening. Report
Please don't use exfoliants with the plastic beads--they are indestructible and end up in the ocean taken up by small organisms and accumulate in the food chain. Choose organic exfoliant ingredients like oatmeal, nut kernels and fruit pit seeds, loofahs, etc. Report
Those suggestions for poison ivy might have been the best several years ago, but now there is Zanfel (and its generic- I'm not an ad) which cures poison ivy. As someone who is severely allergic, I feel the need to pass it on.


It's like someone had the genius idea to combine poison ivy meds that already existed with an exfoliating scrub so that the meds can actually get into the skin.

(But remember that a systemic outbreak will probably need steroids.) Report


About The Author

Leanne Beattie
Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.