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Summer rashes: How to ditch the itch

A young woman looking in a mirror puts skin cream on her cheek.

July 30, 2021— As summer gets into full swing, a lot of us are heading outdoors with our families and friends. And that's usually nothing but fun. But for some people, this time of year can lead to unwanted rashes caused by allergies, insects and plants.

So before you go, brush up on these tips from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and other experts on how to limit your chances of an itchy annoyance this summer.

1. Don't stay in the sun too long. Heat and sun can bring on or worsen some rashes. For instance, being too hot can result in hives or heat rash, which often affects young children. Heat also aggravates eczema. Plus, when the natural oils in our skin mix with sweat, this can lead to acne. Staying cool and dry will help reduce the chances of any outbreaks. It's also a good idea to:

  • Wear loose, breathable clothing.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Play outside during the coolest parts of the day.
  • Stay in the shade.
  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more.

2. Avoid plants that can cause rashes. Plants like poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac can irritate the skin. Learn what these plants look like—and teach your kids too. This is especially important if you spend time in wooded areas. Wearing long sleeves and pants can also offer some protection.

3. Keep the bugs away. Insect bites are a common cause of summer rashes too. It's impossible to completely avoid bugs when you're outdoors. But you can take steps to keep them at bay:

  • Cover up with loose, long-sleeved clothing and a hat.
  • Avoid scented products and bright colors that might attract insects.
  • Wear shoes on beaches to avoid sandworms.
  • Use insect repellent. For kids, stick with products that have no more than 30% DEET.
  • Check for ticks when you come back inside, and remove them right away.

4. Have your allergy treatments ready. For many people, high pollen counts or bad air quality can trigger summer allergies, including skin flare-ups. If that's you, be sure to take your medications as directed. And if you're allergic to insect stings, keep any emergency treatments close at hand when you're planning on spending time outdoors.

Are you taking the right steps to protect your skin? Take our skin care quiz to see how much you know.

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