Summer in Australia features vibrant sun, outdoor activities, and a positive energy in general. It can also bring about various skin-related issues due to the intense sun, elevated temperatures, and increased outdoor activities. These skin issues when ignored will tamper with the daily life of the person affected. It is important to understand about these skin issues/rashes and be prepared before the Australian summer reaches its peak. In this article, we will discuss some of the major skin issues caused by the hot weather, allergens, and insect bites in the Australian summer.   
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Heat Rash Or Prickly Heat:

Summer heat brings upon excessive sweating due to the high humidity in the air. This sweat often irritates the skin when the sweat ducts are blocked and inflamed. Areas such as the armpits, groin, neck, chest, back, crooks of elbows and knees, under the breasts where sweat collects and does not have much air circulation are the most vulnerable to get a heat rash. This also commonly affects children whose skin is often sensitive. The symptoms of a heat rash or prickly heat are:  

  • Prickling sensation and irritating itch  
  • A collection of small red bumps or blisters  
  • Swelling and redness in the affected area  

Children who have heat rash lasting for more than 3 days, or blisters filled with yellow or green pus should immediately get consulted by a doctor.  

Bites And Stings:

Australia is home to various insects that can cause bites and stings. 11 out of 12 of the world’s poisonous snakes live in Australia. In Australia, there are many insects and other creatures that can pose health risks and it is important to be aware of potential bites and stings during the summer months

  • Mosquitoes, ants, spiders, and other insects can leave behind itchy or painful reactions.   
  • Bees and wasps are common in Australia and can deliver painful stings.   
  • Ticks are found in bushy and grassy areas, and one should be especially careful while hiking or having a barbeque or picnic outdoors.  

Most of the time these insects can be repelled using insect repellents or by wearing protective clothing. Some people might have a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis to the stings which require immediate medical attention. Some of the symptoms to look for in a severe reaction include:  

  • Swelling in the face, tongue, lips, or throat  
  • Difficulty in breathing  
  • Wheezing or coughing  

Photosensitivity Or Sun Rash:

Some people can experience a rash when their skin is directly exposed to sunlight, this is called photosensitivity. There are many types of sun rash depending on what is triggering it.   

  • Rash due to sunlight exposure during spring or early summer, called polymorphic light eruption (PMLE).  
  • Rash due to usage of antibiotics or exposure to some chemicals, fragrances, disinfectants, lotions, or sunscreen, is referred to  as photodermatitis.  
Speak to a doctor if affected by any of the above rashes.  

Seasonal Skin Allergies:

Summer and spring can bring about an onset of seasonal skin allergies due to the heat, increased pollen in the air, mould, and other substances. The main skin reactions experienced in the summer are:  

  • Urticaria or hives, an itchy skin-coloured bumps, or welts on the skin  
  • Atopic dermatitis or eczema, an allergic reaction to the heat especially in the creases and folds  
  • Rosacea, the flushed or red appearance of the skin often looks like a sunburn, visible broken blood vessels or bumps.  
  • Several types of fungal infections due to excessive sweating such as jock itch, ringworm, athlete’s foot etc  

Seasonal skin allergies like urticaria, atopic dermatitis, and rosacea can be worsened by summer conditions. Professional diagnosis by a doctor and a tailored treatment plan are essential for effective management.  

Sunburn: Australia experiences high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can lead to sunburn. Prevent sunburn by applying high SPF sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and seeking shade. Prolonged UV exposure increases the risk of skin cancer so regular skin checks are recommended. 

How Can I Avoid A Summer Skin Rash?

If there are no known underlying medical conditions or genetic skin allergies, most of the above rashes could be avoided with special attention to sun protection, hydration, and awareness of potential allergens. Here are some tips to stay safe in the Australian summer:  

  • Get your allergy management or action plan ready by speaking to a General Practitioner.  
  • Carry dermatologist approved insect repellents and wear protective clothing when outside.  
  • Stay hydrated and avoid being out during the peak sun hours.  
  • Choose breathable fabrics.   
  • Apply sun protection before venturing out and throughout the day.  
  • Stay informed about the pollen count, weather conditions, bush fire safety and more by checking the government websites.  
  • Take special care of kids and babies whose skin is more sensitive than the adults.  

It is important to note that weather conditions can be unpredictable, and extreme events like heat waves, storms, and bushfires can impact communities. If you develop a skin rash despite these precautions, it is advisable to seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and treatment. A healthcare professional can provide personalised guidance based on the specific nature of the rash and your skin condition. Additionally, staying hydrated, practising good sun protection habits, and being mindful of potential irritants can contribute to maintaining healthy skin during the Australian summer.  

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Reference

1. Summer Skin Rashes – Health Direct: Reference Link

2. Heat Rash: Reference Link

3. Bites and Stings – Queensland Government: Reference Link

4. Photosensitivity – Lupus association of NSW Inc: Reference Link

5. Eczema – Eczema association of Australia: Reference Link

6. Eva Rawlings Parker, Jessica Mo, Rachel S. Goodman,The dermatological manifestations of extreme weather events: A comprehensive review of skin disease and vulnerability, The Journal of Climate Change and Health, Volume 8, 2022, 100162, ISSN 2667-2782:  Reference Link.

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Disclaimer

This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. For emergencies please immediately contact 000.