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Quick Fixes for Summer Skin Problems

Updated on June 25, 2007

It is the time of year when we show more skin than ever, so of course we want it looking great.... But somehow we always manage to run into a few problems!! Whether it be our sweat glands over reacting and causing us to break out or soaking in too much sun and looking like a lobster there is help! Below are 5 problems many of us battle in the summer, and great, easy, quick fixes to go with them!

Breakouts

The Problem - You're breaking out on your back, shoulders, and chest, and your regular soap isn't helping.

The Fix - Wash with a body cleanser that contains benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, ingredients that unblock pores and dry up excess oil. (Don't scrub; it may inflame skin.) Try Neutrogena Body Clear Body Scrub ($6; drugstores). To prevent breakouts, dust talcum powder on your back and chest to help absorb perspiration, and look for oil-free products that are labeled noncomedogenic, which means they won't clog pores. Avoid form-fitting clothes that hold heat and moisture close to your skin, and change into fresh gear ASAP after perspiring heavily.

Sunburn

The Problem - You got caught up in the excitement of your kid's Little League tournament and forgot to reapply sunscreen. Now your skin is beet red.

The Fix - Avoid the sun until the skin has healed completely. "Sunburned skin temporarily loses its protective barrier, so it's more susceptible to subsequent burns," says Fran Cook-Bolden, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

To reduce inflammation and pain, pop an aspirin and take as directed until the burn fades. Soaking in a bath of cool or lukewarm water laced with a handful of baking soda will also ease the burn. Afterward, gently pat on a topical over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to help reduce swelling. Try not to pick or peel skin that's beginning to flake; those dry patches protect forming skin from the environment. Next time, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply every 2 hours.

Ingrown Hairs

The Problem - Your quest for an ultraclose shave left you with ingrown hairs around your bikini line.

The Fix - Wash with an anti-bacterial soap to quell inflammation. Gentle use of a loofah or washcloth every other day will help dislodge trapped hairs and prevent their return. For a chronic case, try Bliss Ingrown Hair Eliminating Peeling Pads ($35; Bliss) or Tend Skin ($20; Sephora); both contain salicylic acid, an exfoliant that keeps ingrowns at bay. In the future, shave in the bath or shower; the water plumps up hair, making it easier to cut. Change blades as soon as you feel any pull or drag--a dull blade is more likely to cause ingrown hairs, says David Bank, MD, director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, NY.

Poison Ivy

The Problem - That "grass" you rested in after your hike was poison ivy, and now you can't stop itching.

The Fix - Treat mild rashes with hydrocortisone cream. Bathing in tepid water with 1 cup of oatmeal may also alleviate the misery. If that's not enough, take an antihistamine such as Benadryl. Because heat and sweating can aggravate the itch, stay as cool as possible. See your doctor if the rash is on your face or genitals, is blistering or oozing, or doesn't improve after a week of self-treatment. On future outdoor adventures, steer clear of plants that have three shiny leaves coming from a central stem. If you act quickly to wash the plant's oily resin off your skin (it becomes irreversibly bound within 15 minutes of exposure), you can prevent or minimize a reaction.

Dry Skin

The Problem - A beach vacation left your skin looking and feeling drier than a desert.

The Fix - After swimming, rinse with fresh water to remove any salt or chlorine buildup, which can further dry out and irritate skin. Keep subsequent baths and showers short (no longer than 5 minutes) and use a mild cleanser and warm water. Gently use a loofah, washcloth, or exfoliating scrub to slough off dead cells. After bathing, towel-dry and moisturize immediately with a rich lotion. "You need to seal in the moisture while you're still slightly damp," says Bank.

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