Thanks to cancer prevention organizations and public health initiatives, warnings about the dangers of U.V. rays are everywhere. Unfortunately, sun damage isn’t the only seasonal threat to skin. Here are 7 things you may not realize are harming your skin this summer, and how you can protect yourself:
Ironically, water actually removes moisture from the skin. Diving into a lake may feel refreshing, but while you’re swimming around, feeling wonderful, you’re losing an important natural layer of oil that keeps your skin hydrated. In fact, the Mayo Clinic lists frequent swimming as a common cause of dry skin. After you’re done swimming for the day, make sure to moisturize.
Chlorine may keep pool and hot tub water sanitary, but it’s a toxic chemical that can dry out skin to an even greater degree than water, causing skin to grow flaky and crack, which leads to premature wrinkles. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, inhaling chlorine can lead to rashes and sinus problems. It has also been shown to exacerbate acne. Prior to swimming in pools, protect your skin with a pre-swim lotion. Afterwards, soothe damage with an oatmeal bath and plenty of moisturizer.
Acne sufferers should be especially vigilant in hot weather and take caution against Acne Mechanica, a condition that occurs when substances rub against overheated skin. To avoid breakouts, avoid activities and clothing items that cause chafing, and avoid using a cleanser more than twice a day. As Health Central advises, over-washing can dry out or irritate the skin, causing additional skin problems.
For people of any skin type, heat can cause the proteins in skin to break down, damaging in the dermis in the most fundamental of ways. Store cleansers, toners, and moisturizers in the refrigerator, and wash your face with lukewarm or cool water. Exposure to cooler temperatures will reduce irritation and redness.
Air conditioning dehumidifies the air, which can dry out skin and hair. Regular heat fluctuations (going from extreme heat outside to a significantly cooler atmosphere inside your home) can exacerbate existing conditions like psoriasis and eczema, and irritate sweat glands. Unclean filters can also lead to airborne contact dermatitis. Invest in a dehumidifier and use air conditioning as infrequently as possible. When you do use air conditioning, keep the air temperature as warm as you can stand to minimize body temperature fluctuations. Also, remember to clean out your filter regularly.
When you’re at a barbecue or lazing on the beach, think twice before cracking open extra beers: Alcohol is a natural diuretic that can dry out the skin and deplete the body of essential nutrients, leading to bloodshot eyes, thread veins, and flushed skin. Drinking heavily on a regular basis can lead to rosacea and various forms of cancer.
In the summertime there can be nothing more refreshing than driving with the top down, coasting down a hill on a bike ride, or sucking in blustery salty air out on the open water, but unfortunately, wind can damage skin cells and strip away moisture, resulting in chapped, scaly skin. As Dr. Cynthia Bailey warns on her website, weather ‘pulls’ moisture out of your skin into the dehumidified air. When prepping for an outing that is likely to involve wind, pack items like sweaters, hats, gloves, and blankets –anything that can be used to cover up.
Lack of Exercise
The effects of exercise may not be instantly visible to the naked eye, but exercise increases blood flow, which helps nourish skin cells by distributing oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and carrying away waste products, including free radicals, which are linked to aging. Heat can lead to lethargy, but remember that if you jog or bike regularly, your skin will thank you for it.