Summertime skin irritations; causes and cures

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Once the warm, humid weather hits, the emails start rolling in; “Jane, I have a rash on my face. What should I do about it?!” Here is the physiology of warm weather skin irritations and what to do about them.

Skin irritation occurs when the tissue is abraded, is touched with an allergen or, most commonly, when the natural pH of the skin is disturbed.  The skin is by nature slightly acidic measuring between 4.5 to 5.5 on the pH scale and it is this acidity that helps to kill or neutralize irritants.  However, with prolonged exposures or severe changes in pH, the deeper immune system functions are engaged releasing histamines that cause heat and swelling, white blood cells that create redness all resulting in bumps & rashes that damage the surface skin cells resulting in peeling, flaking and sloughing. Then when the skin is in this state of newly exposed cells after the flaking/peeling, it becomes hyper-sensitive which can cause the irritation to become chronic and repeat itself.  And thus the summertime skin irritation that does not want to go away.

Itchy-Eyelids-3Heat-Rash-2bumps2Common warm weather irritations:

  1. The crease above the eyelids and the eyelids themselves – inflamed, itchy and stingy
  2. The forehead – red, stingy rashes and bumps
  3. The center of the face – little pustules and red bumps

Common causes:

Perspiration can be a higher pH than the skin due to the sodium chloride (pH 6.7 – 7.3) it contains. Once the moisture dissipates from the sweat then the salt remains alone on the skin causing irritation which can create a rash. Additionally, perspiration can activate products used on face and in the hair to weep downward to areas not intended for them which causes irritation. Common irritating products:

  • hair styling products – the pH is not compatible with the skin, the gelling agents are clogging and the solvents they contain are an irritant. Additionally, the artificial fragrances are extreme irritants.
  • exfoliating treatment serums/cremes – these types of products are a low pH to activate the renewal sloughing process in the skin of the face but NOT the eye area.
  • Chemical sunscreens – most skins are irritated by the chemicals in sunscreens and when absorbed into the eye area, cause great irritation.
  • mineral make-up when it contains bismuth oxychloride – the common ingredient in MOST mineral make-up is a metal that can cause great irritation and stinging especially when activated by perspiration.

Prevention:

  • Rinse skin within two hours of heavy perspiring to avoid sodium irritation.
  • Avoid wearing exfoliating products when you know you will be in the heat and potentially perspiring.
  • Avoid chemical sunscreens and instead use only natural sunscreens formulated with zinc and titanium oxides like Euchlora’s SummerSilk (also check this ingredient list to make sure your product will not clog the skin).
  • Avoid wearing mineral make-ups with bismuth oxychloride in general and especially when you will be sweating.  Try Euchlora’s custom blended (B.O.-free) mineral Powders and Sheer Moisture Tints.

Cures:

  1. EYES – On clean skin, douse the entire eye area inside and out with anti-histamine eye drops.  Once soaked in, rub the area with an ice-cube for up to 15 seconds.  Using a QTip, apply a thin coat of calamine lotion to the affected area and let dry.  Splash this off with cold water then apply Euchlora’s EyesTea followed by a very, very thin dab of Stop it * avoiding application close to the lashes.  Following this treatment, avoid wearing eye make-up with lustre or sparkle, remove eye make-up only with oil or creamy cleanser (if not wearing make-up simply rinse eye area with water) and twice a day apply EyesTea followed by a very, very thin coat of Stop it.  Repeat initial treatment once a week until irritation is gone. *If irritation is pronounced hydrocortisone ointment may be needed initially.
  2. FOREHEAD – Clean skin with a pH balanced, fragrance-free foaming cleanser such as Euchlora’s Purify Frothing Cleanser.  Apply a generous coat of Calamine lotion or for greater amplified results, apply Euchlora’s Terraflora Masque.  Let these dry completely, then splash off with cold water.  Apply a coat of Stop it then at a second time each day, wash as above and reapply ointment.  Repeat daily until rash resolves.  NOTE:  This method also works for heat rash on any part of the body.
  3. CENTER OF FACE – Pustules and bumps in this area of the face can be an indication of the disorder Rosacea that is activated by heat and humidity.  These rashy bumps can also simply be caused by heat and perspiration as above.  For either, wash face with a pH balanced, fragrance-free foaming cleanser such as Euchlora’s Purify Frothing Cleanser.  Apply a clay masque such as Euchlora’s Terraflora Masque and let dry.  Rinse off with cold water and apply 2 pumps of Euchlora’s TLBC vitamin C Concentrate serum to entire face.  Repeat once a day until bumps have subsided.  Maintain results using TLBC regularly and avoiding heavy moisturizers during heat and humidity favoring light zinc oxide moisturizers like Euchlora’s Tranquility Lotion.

Please feel free to contact me in the studio with any further questions.  If you are in California check in with Jane-Ann Lowes at BlushLA.

Jane Balshaw jbalshaw@comcast.net  603-491-7305