Change of season from summer to monsoon is the prime time for all kinds of mysterious skin rash, crusting, swelling, oozing, lumps and bumps. A little awareness can prevent a lot of suffering. Rashes during summer months are caused by factors like sunlight, sweating, infection, insects and overheating especially if people have allergies and or pre-existing skin conditions. I have been observing an increase of around 15-20% patients with heat and humidity related skin rash in our OPD, during these months.
Heat rash or prickly heat is an itchy irritating skin rash with tiny red spots, which usually appear on areas of the body where sweat collects, such as the armpits, back, under the breasts, chest, groin, waist. Millaria is caused by blockage and inflammation of sweat ducts during hot & humid months. Wear light, loose-fitting soft cotton clothes. Avoid clothing that traps heat and moisture. Stay in cool, well-ventilated or air-conditioned environment. If rash persists longer than a few days or becomes filled with pus or is accompanied by fever or hills or swollen lymph nodes get it evaluated by a dermatologist.
Hives are a common reaction to many different allergens including pollen, foods, insect bites as well as infections. They are red, raised wheals with clearly defined edge and may disappear on their own within hours. If hives don’t respondto antihistamines, your doctor may want to rule out other illnesses or allergies. Rush to the doctor or emergency if hives are severe or you have signs of anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction) such as fainting, face or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, tightening of throat or wheezing.
Although eczemas or dermatitis take a back seat in summers, but photo-contact-dermatitis is on the rise, a specific type of dermatitis caused by reaction when photosensitising certain chemicals are applied to skin and subsequently get activated by exposure to sun. These chemicals can be part of fragrances, creams, dyes, disinfectants or repellentsetc. Not all rashes are allergic. Infections are common in the summer and can cause non-allergic rashes. When in doubt, consult with the dermatologist, who has specialized training and experience to diagnose and help you manage your condition.
Skin pigmentation, freckles and melasma that increase due to the harmful UV rays, can be treated using oral antioxidants, chemical peels, exfoliative treatments and lasers. A normal tan tends to wear off on its own in four to six weeks after restricting sun exposure.
Harsh and hot summers, accompanied by sudden showers raise the humidity levels leading to increase in skin ailments. People must watch out for fungal infections, acne (pimples), red skin, skin darkening, pigmentation, sunburn, allergies and infections, causing such rash.Sweat and heat can bring up an attack of Malassezia, an inflammatory red-brown rash across chest, back, shoulders and neck. Off-the-shelf lotions and steroids can make the condition worse. Specific washes, creams and oral-antimicrobials prescribed by dermatologist after complete assessment, can make it completely disappear.
Eagerly awaited rain can bring excessive humidity and fungal infections or ring worm can take hold in groin, under arms, under breast and feet. People often apply creams taken straight from chemists or products recommended by family or friends. Most of these preparations contain steroids labelled or unlabelled, that brings down the itch, but silently the ugly fangs of infection keeps progressing to involve more and more areas. I often see patients struggling with such extensive disease, due self-medication for months. Dermatologists can immediately deal with infection and help you get rid of it completely, if you are regularly following their treatment. Common skin issues should not be neglected and medications recommended directly by chemists or salons or casually by friends should be completely avoided. It is essential to visit dermatologist, in case of persisting even though minor skin rash as they would be able to give you the cause and medical solution to the problem.
Rapid change in the weather from hot to humid makes the perfect environment for bacteria, virus, fungi and even insects especially mosquitoes to grow. Viral fevers, dengue, chikungunya and gastroenteritis are often accompanied with skin rash. It needs complete evaluation including platelet counts to prevent life threatening complications.
Kids have delicate skin and should stay indoors especially during afternoons with temperatures breaking the mercury. Sun burn, light and dark patches on skin, insect bites and millaria are the most common skin conditions in children during these months. Keep your child indoors during the first rain of the season as it contains acidic elements which can cause skin problems. Drink plenty of fluids, avoid becoming too hot, wear sunscreen and carry an umbrella to enjoy the season.
Written By: Dr. Rachna Jagia (Venkateshwar Hospital, Dwarka)
HOD and Senior Consultant
Dept. Dermatology and Aesthetics