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Staying Aware of Summertime Skin Conditions

Humans are typically happier in the summer. Sunlight increases our serotonin levels, thus regulating our mood and making us feel more relaxed. As enjoyable as it is to spend time outdoors in the warmer months, there are some summer-related skin conditions you should be aware of:

Plant rashes: A hike in a state park can sound like a safe idea, but it’s important to protect the skin from innocuous looking plants like poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak. Urushiol, the oil found in these plants, can cause painful rashes that can crop up within 24 to 72 hours after coming into contact with the leaves. The rashes usually last around three weeks. Burning the plants can cause even worse reactions, and inhaling the smoke can result in life-threatening symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and swollen lymph nodes.

Exaggerated medication side effects. Certain medicines such as antibiotics, birth control pills, antihistamines, thiazide diuretics, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can make people more sensitive to UV rays and susceptible to sunburn. "They lower your threshold to burn,” said Jason Frangos, MD, a dermatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It's best to seek the shade, wear sunscreen, and work with your doctor to see if an alternative treatment is available.”

Prickly heat. Most of us are familiar with that subtle itchy sensation when we’re wearing clothes that are too warm for the weather. However, when too much sweat gets trapped in the skin, we can develop prickly heat or sweat rash. Prickly heat can be identified by red bumps or blisters. Symptoms can be easily resolved with calamine lotion or changing into loose, cool clothing.  

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