Solutions to common summer problems

A low-down of some of the most annoying summer skin problems and hygiene solutions to eliminate them

happy woman in waterHygiene is extremely important to maintain good overall health and wellbeing. It is however all the more important in summer because the harsh heat induces excessive sweating which makes the skin moist.

This favours growth of microbes. Excessive sun exposure can also cause sun-induced disorders, heat stress syndrome, heat rashes and pimples [tropical acne]. Here is a list of some common summer problems and how you can avoid or treat them effectively.

Heat rash

Due to excess heat, the over-worked sweat glands get blocked causing heat rash. The sweat ducts get blocked at the inner layer in the skin. Heat rash is also known as prickly heat or Miliaria Rubra. Miliaria Rubra appears as discrete, extremely itchy, red coloured, small lesions associated with prickling, burning or tingling sensation. It occurs in body folds and on the trunk.

Tip: Using skin lotions rich in calamine and vitamin C provide relief from heat rash. Wear cotton and pastel-coloured clothes as they absorb less sun rays when compared to dark-coloured clothes, keeping the body cool. Air conditioners and cold water baths are also of great help.


Some individuals develop tropical acne [pimples] in summer months. These lesions are nodular, cystic or pustular and occur on back, buttocks and thighs. Thankfully, they spare the face. It is more common in acne-prone persons.

Tip: Have regular baths using antibacterial soaps and keep your body as dry and fresh as possible. Using non-oily and cooling cleansers, face washes, lotions and deodorants helps prevent break-outs.

Heat stroke

Rise of body temperature can lead to heat stroke or heat urticaria [allergy]. Sun exposure can cause solar urticaria. Skin rashes on sun-exposed areas without any known cause are known as polymorphic light eruptions. These are very itchy, red coloured, micropapular lesions occurring on face, arms and hands.

Some people develop allergic reactions on sun-exposed areas known as photosensitivity. This allergy may occur after use of cosmetics, talcum powder or perfumes on the sun exposed parts of the body.

Tip: Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and maintain your body temperature. Use a superior quality sunscreen at least half an hour before going out in the sun. Re-apply sunscreen at regular intervals.

Avoid using cosmetics, talcum powder or perfumes on the sun exposed parts of the body, it is aggravates the rash. Try and stay indoors as much as possible or at least avoid going outdoors when the sun rays are strongest—from 11am – 4pm.

Skin pigmentation

Exposure to sunlight can lead to melasma [butterfly-like pigmentation on face], freckles [dark-coloured spots on the face], skin rashes, sunburn or tanning of the skin. Certain skin ailments like atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, lichen planus, seborrheic dermatitis, acne rosacea, and lupus erythematosus may get accentuated on exposure to sunlight.

Tip: Apply a sunscreen with SPF 50 and above to prevent pigmentation, tanning and sun-induced rashes. Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved cotton clothes and a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors.

Body odour

There is an increase in body odour during summer due to excessive sweating. Our body harbours bacteria in body folds. Due to the moisture in sweat, these bacteria produce hydrogen sulphide, which gives rise to body odour. Our arm pits have apocrine glands, which produce apocrine sweat. Bacteria decompose this sweat to produce fatty acids, which also has a distinctive offensive odour. This condition is called as bromidrosis.

Some people have coloured sweat—a condition known as chromhidrosis. Coloured sweat is usually yellowish in colour and stains the clothes.

Tip: Have regular baths. Use a cooling talcum powder, anti-fungal powder, or calamine lotion after bath. Cold water soaks during the day are advisable. Wear clean undergarments and socks daily. Use perfumed deodorants, if you are not allergic to them.

Heat boils

Summer heat predisposes people to painful heat boils known as furuncles. It is a myth that eating mangoes causes heat boils; these boils are chiefly caused by bacteria that breed on moist, sweaty skin.

Tip: Take bath twice a day using anti-bacterial soaps. Keep the body dry. Use a cooling talcum powder. Avoid using oil and greasy ointments. Change clothes twice a day. If boils occur, visit your doctor and take oral antibiotics or use an antibiotic cream.

Drink buttermilk, coconut water and fresh fruit juices like that of sugarcane, orange, lemon and watermelon.

Eat lots of green vegetables and cucumber salads to combat summer heat. Avoid spicy and oily fried food, and limit your intake of tea and coffee as much as possible.


Viral infections such as chicken pox and measles are commonly seen in summer. Hence, anyone with high fever or rash must immediately get it checked by a medical practitioner. Fungal infection such as Tinea versicolor that occur commonly in body folds and between toes are common in summer.

Some individuals develop Jock itch in the groins, athlete’s feet and reddish white macerated lesions between toes.

Tip: Sprinkle anti-fungal talcum powder in body folds and in between toes to reduce odour and prevent infection. Keep your nails well-trimmed to avoid injury and infection [long nails harbour bacteria beneath them].

S G Parasramani
Dr S G Parasramani is a consulting dermatologist at the Lilavati Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai.


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