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6 Tips to Protect Your Skin From the Damage Caused by Heat and Humidity

From overactive sebaceous glands to inflamed red patches, a celebrity dermatologist shares how the sultry weather impacts your skin and how to prevent such damage. 

The sultry, humid weather can wreak havoc on your skin. Besides a visible increase in blemishes and facial flushing, the rising temperatures may also be responsible for making your skin look incredibly dull and parched. Wondering how to protect your skin against the inevitable impact of heat and sun damage? Celebrity dermatologist, Dr Jaishree Sharad comes to the rescue.

"From sunburn and rosacea to pimples and pigmentation, the summer heat is notorious for ruining your skin," explains Dr Jaishree Sharad, Medical Director at Skinfiniti Aesthetic and Laser Clinic. Take note of the season's most pressing skin concerns, and cardinal skincare tips to avoid any consequent damage.  

1) You're uneasy and constantly itching away at your skin 

Miliaria, popularly known as prickly heat, usually occurs on those parts of the body that are covered—due to the blockage of sweat ducts. Persistent itchiness and constant discomfort result, affecting people across all age groups and genders. "To combat this skin condition, wear light cotton clothes (change your clothes immediately if sweaty) and dust ample prickly heat powder over your body. Besides, ice, calamine lotion and Aloe vera lotion can also be applied to soothe the affected area," suggests Dr Jaishree. 

2) Your skin feels greasy and oily at most times

"During summers, your body’s sebaceous glands work on overdrive. These glands are connected to the surface of your skin through pores, and once the pores get clogged with excessive sebum, sweat and grime, the sebaceous glands get infected with an organism called cutibacterium, leading to breakouts," informs Dr Jaishree. She encourages making use of a face cleanser that contains salicylic acid, in order to get rid of the day's dirt, grime and dead skin. "Remember to use a toner as well. And take a shower immediately post a workout or whenever you are drenched in sweat," she adds.

3) Your skin looks flushed, coupled with redness and inflammation

For those of you who suffer from rosacea, summer serves to be an absolute nightmare. The common signs and symptoms of this skin condition include red patches, a tendency to flush easily, visible blood vessels on the nose and cheeks, and small red bumps or pustules on the nose, cheeks, forehead and chin, which simulate white heads. Sunlight, heat, hot baths and saunas are known to aggravate rosacea. Hence, Dr Jaishree recommends effective sun protection, air conditioning, as well as a clean diet, which will prevent it from flaring up.

4) You experience rashes, blisters, boils and swelling on your skin

Fungal and bacterial infections are fairly common during summers, due to excessive heat and sweating. The armpits, groin and the area between our toes are the places commonly affected. "Anything ranging from a general lack of hygiene and sweat to swimming in contaminated water can give rise to fungal infections," she states. The spike in humidity also easily attracts dirt and pollutants. "This may consequently lead to bacterial infections on the skin and scalp, which usually present themselves as boils. Such boils or furuncles are most commonly caused due to a bacteria called staphylococcus. Other bacterial infections include impetigo, ecthyma, folliculitis and cellulitis," informs Dr Jaishree.

To avoid these seasonal beauty woes, Dr Jaishree emphasises on the importance of maintaining optimal hygiene. She urges you to bathe twice a day—preferably with an antibacterial soap—and wear clothes only after wiping yourself down completely. Post a shower, you could also dust some anti-fungal powder (such as clotrimazole) on your feet, underarms, all body folds and the groin. Avoid wearing closed shoes which can harbour fungal infections in the web spaces of your toes. If required, opt for cotton socks, and change your clothes—especially inner wear—at least twice a day.

5) Your skin gets burnt and tanned, owing to excessive sunlight exposure 

Skin tanning poses to be another common ailment during this season. According to Dr Jaishree, sun tan usually occurs due to exposure to sunlight, especially between 10 am to 4 pm. When your skin is exposed to harsh UV rays, she explains, the pigment forming cells called melanocytes present in the lowest layer of the epidermis end up forming more melanin, which is in turn responsible for tanning. On the other hand, skin damage from a sunburn may be minimal, showing up as a mild redness that rapidly resolves itself. However, sometimes it can be severe enough to cause blisters with fluid accumulation and peeling of large areas of the skin. "Wear a water resistant or waterproof sun block with SPF 50 or more, when exposed to the sun. A DIY paste made with yogurt and turmeric also helps reduce tanning. Besides, Vitamin C serums, oral supplements and antioxidants also provide protection against sun damage," she claims.

6) You are noticing visible signs of premature ageing on your skin—dark spots, fine lines, hyperpigmentation

According to Dr Jaishree, excessive sun exposure and heat are known to increase free radicals such as matrix metalloproteinase, which breakdown collagen and elastin fibres in your skin. This could result in premature ageing of the skin, showing up through visible signs of hyperpigmentation, age spots, open pores, fine lines and wrinkles.

As toxic the heat poses to be for your skin, prevention tactics to protect the skin against sun damage are equally simple. The heat absorbs a lot of water from your body, leaving it parched and dehydrated. This makes your skin more susceptible to allergies and rashes, hence, optimal hydration is of utmost importance. Besides, consider reducing your consumption of caffeinated and aerated drinks and shift to fresh fruit juices and butter milk instead. Make it a point to include vibrant fruits in your diet, which are often a rich source of antioxidants that help fight free radicals. Vitamin C, E and antioxidant supplements also help a great deal in combating toxins produced due to the sun and heat.