Thursday, March 20, 2014
After crippling ice storms and a chilly winter in the Lowcountry, many of us are itching for spring days where we can break out the open-toed shoes, sleeveless shirts and shorts. But sometimes, what's been hiding underneath all of those clothes may suddenly need attention, especially when it comes to your skin.
If you're grabbing a sleeveless dress for an upcoming party, be sure to check the back of your arms in the mirror. If you see small, red or white, acne-like bumps on your upper arms that don't itch, this is a common skin condition called keratosis pilaris. Although not serious, it can be difficult to treat. Often prescription topical medication is needed to smooth out these bumps that are more an eyesore than a serious problem.
However, a more serious problem could be hiding between your toes... athlete's foot (tinea pedis). This contagious foot rash often starts between the toes and is caused by the same type of fungus that causes ringworm and jock itch. Damp socks or shoes and warm, humid conditions are its favorite places to hang out and it's easily spread by contact. There are many over-the-counter products to treat athlete's foot, but if it doesn't respond quickly to them, see a doctor. Also make sure to wear flip flops or sandals in communal spaces.
As the humidity and heat turn up, so do our oil glands. Be sure that your wardrobe consists of cotton-style fabrics that let your skin breathe and not allow for bacteria, dead skin and oil to be trapped in the follicles on your back, chest, arms or legs. When trapped, acne can form in these places. Body acne can be more difficult to control than acne on your face, especially since the skin is different in these areas. Use a cleanser that contains salicylic acid or glycolic acid that will gently exfoliate your skin and help unclog pores.
And don't forget your face! An increasing number of women in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond are experiencing acne, some for the first time in decades, yet don't seek treatment. From environmental factors to hormones, figuring out what triggers your acne is important along with an effective regimen prescribed by a professional. Whatever you do, wear sunscreen with an SPF 30-plus daily. Myths like “Getting a suntan will help your acne” are just that – myths.
Even if you don't battle with acne, athlete's foot or the other conditions above, purchase a new sunblock with SPF 30-plus containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide and wear it daily. Your skin will thank you.
Louisa G. Floyd, MSPAS, PA-C is a Dermatology Physician Assistant at Germain Dermatology. For more, call 843-881-4440 or visit germaindermatology.com.