Rebecca Sklar, RPA-C with Advanced Dermatology PC, Shares Tips on Steering Clear of Warm-Weather Skin Outbreaks

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Stop on Red: How to Keep Your Summer Rash-Free.

Rebecca Sklar, RPA-C

Staying aware and practicing prevention, can keep rashes from interrupting our summertime fun time.

“A balmy sunny day, a picnic in the park, a dip in the water,” observes Rebecca Sklar, a certified registered Physician Assistant specializing in dermatology with Advanced Dermatology PC. “Unfortunately, the things we love about summer can trigger rashes, some that we can treat ourselves, others that require immediate medical attention.”

‘Rash’ refers to a change in skin color, appearance or texture. “Inflammation often makes a rash red,” explains Sklar, “and it can be itchy, warm, swollen, or painful, depending on the cause.”

Summer fun brings a number of rash risks. “Plants, bugs, pathogens that thrive at swim spots, the sun itself,” Sklar enumerates. “Fortunately, we can mitigate these so that our good time doesn’t end with an uncomfortable, unsightly, or dangerous rash.”

With that in mind, Sklar suggests the following:

5 Tips to Enjoy a Rash-Free Summer:

1. Keep cool – and avoid the rash: “Heat and sun,” explains Sklar, “can exacerbate eczema and rosacea, and trigger the itchy, red bumps of hives. The sun can also interact with medications and skin products. A dermatologist can help identify safe alternatives. Some individuals develop rashes from sunlight alone and benefit from a treatment plan. Seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and using sunscreen are important not only to prevent skin cancer – but also to limit unwanted skin reactions.”

2. Contact dermatitis? Don’t touch it! “Poison ivy, oak, and sumac,” itemizes Sklar. “If our skin picks up the urushiol oil from these plants, most of us will end up with a case of contact dermatitis – an allergic reaction to something that we touch. Urushiol typically causes a blistering, red, very itchy rash, sometimes so severe it requires prescription medicine. It’s a good idea to check out plant pictures and stay on the lookout – especially when doing yard work, as clearing and burning can result in inhalation and more serious problems. Also, pets and gear can pass along the oil. Another summer contact-dermatitis culprit? Sunscreen. For those who react, consider a mineral-based product with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.”

3. Fun? Yes! Fungus? No! “The tinea fungus that causes athlete’s foot and jock itch loves summer,” says Sklar. “Bare feet and bathing suits, sweaty outdoor sports – these can result in the red, itchy between-the-toes rash of athlete’s foot and the scaly, red, itchy rash known as ‘jock itch.’ The key is getting dry – out of the wet suit and damp workout gear asap. Also, be careful with personal belongings and footwear: Fungus is contagious, so we don’t want to share, and we want to avoid bare feet in communal spaces, poolside, for example.”

4. Avoid high-risk bug bites: “We have more options when it comes to repellents,” notes Sklar. “Picaridin is effective against bugs like mosquitoes and ticks that are increasingly carrying dangerous diseases, and it’s less smelly and greasy than DEET. We can also pre-treat clothes and gear with permethrin, which can prevent insects and ticks from hitching a ride onto our skin. Other warm-weather insects like bees, wasps, and fire ants also pose threats, especially if we’re allergic. Any sting that causes a reaction away from the bite requires immediate medical evaluation and future management.”

5. Not sure? See a doctor: “Rashes of unknown origin need evaluation,” emphasizes Sklar. “In the case of ticks, their bite is easily missed. If there is a rash, it can take a variety of forms – not only a ‘bull’s eye’ rash. And ticks can carry a variety of diseases that require immediate treatment. During the summer, we also see an increase in the serious skin infection cellulitis, which may be overlooked as an innocuous rash. Cellulitis typically occurs on the legs or feet, appearing as a red, swollen, tender rash that expands. It needs immediate treatment, as the infection can spread to the blood and lymph systems, becoming life-threatening.”

“Staying aware and practicing prevention,” concludes Sklar, “can keep rashes from interrupting our summertime fun time.”

Bio: Rebecca Sklar, RPA-C is a certified physician assistant through the National Commission of Certification of Physician Assistants.

Advanced Dermatology P.C. and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery (New York & New Jersey) is one of the leading dermatology centers in the nation, offering highly experienced physicians in the fields of cosmetic and laser dermatology as well as plastic surgery and state-of-the-art medical technologies.

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