Help For Summer Skin Issues
by Darra McMullen,
Women’s Health Network Writer/Researcher
As summer officially begins in June (on the 21st.), this time seems to be the perfect one to explore some of the best options for caring for common skin concerns. Skin health and/or appearance issues generally come to the forefront of people’s minds as they “uncover” and bare more skin to make summer’s heat more tolerable.
We’ll take a look at some frequently seen skin related woes and address them with health tips that have been in the news lately for being safe and effective remedies.
Some of the most common skin complaints, especially during Houston’s summer, surround insect bites. To ease itching and speed healing, consider using calendula cream. Calendula is an extract of the marigold flower and has been used for ages to treat minor skin problems. More recent research, conducted in Brazilian studies, shows that dabbing calendula on insect bites hourly can stop itching and reduce healing time substantially, as much as 75% in many cases. Triterpenes and saponins are the plant compounds thought to be responsible for reducing inflammation, improving blood flow, and increasing the immune system’s production of tissue healing proteins. Biochemist Monica Butnarui, PhD, provided this information.
Another common skin complaint, especially in summer, is concern over how to deal with varicose veins. Severe varicose veins may require a doctor’s help and the use of one of a variety of medical procedures, but mild varicose veins may be able to be aided by applying witch hazel on affected veins twice daily. British researchers have reported good outcomes with subjects who followed the twice-a-day regimen. Study subjects reported improvements in appearance and easing of pain in as little as seven days time. Chilling witch hazel before application also brings immediate relief to itching for those vein sufferers who experience this symptom.
Tannins and procyanidins are the powerful anti-inflammatory and astringent compounds in witch hazel that are thought to be responsible for the varicose vein improvement.
With low cut blouses, T-shirts, tank tops, sun dresses, and similar garments the norm in Houston’s hot, humid summer temps, many older women worry about the appearance of a crepe-y decolletage. Interestingly, a simple routine can improve appearance. Using rosehip oil combined with massage can make noticeable changes for the better. Rosehip oil’s fatty acids work to plump up the skin and diminish chest creasing over time. Also, rosehip oil contains vitamin A, which helps to fade fine lines, and using massage to “work-in” the oil into skin helps to spread the beneficial qualities of the oil faster and deeper.
To diminish the appearance of cellulite dimpling, consider using grapefruit oil combined with massage. Grapefruit oil works as a diuretic that helps to purge the toxins that tend to make cellulite more prominent and noticeable. Rubbing in the oil through massage breaks up the fatty deposits for a better appearance. Medical aesthetician Holly Cutler provided the above two suggestions on how to effectively deal with crepe-y skin and dimply cellulite.
One other common summer skin concern is a “rash-y” look coming from red, inflamed bumps on the skin that result from extra shaving and waxing or from wet clothing or snug garments that rub the skin or stick to it in summer heat. To address this problem, reach for milk of magnesia. Applying this old standard laxative to the skin with a soft cloth will absorb skin oils (to reduce pimples) and reduce inflammation and redness. In German studies, this “good for you” mineral, magnesium, has been shown to speed healing time so much as to cut the time required to repair damaged tissues in hal
Speaking of skin health assistance from old-fashioned laxatives, let’s not forget castor oil’s ability to get rid of unsightly and uncomfortable calluses on the skin, especially the feet. To get maximum help from this old standard remedy, dampen cotton balls with castor oil and place them on calluses. Hold cotton in place with self-adhering bandages and go to bed. Upon awakening, wash the area and gently buff with a pumice stone and moisturize. According to scientists at the University of Virginia, even difficult calluses will be smoothed in five days. Castor oil’s ricinoleic acid softens skin, reduces swelling, and heals skin’s tissues according to scientists.
Another method for callus removal involves a different old standard remedy – aspirin. Get six uncoated aspirin tablets, crush, and mix with 1Tbs. of lemon juice to form a paste. Apply the paste to the calluses and let sit for 10 minutes. Then wipe paste off with a towel. Calluses will slowly disappear with each application and rub down.
Dark, Puffy Eye Circles
If dark, puffy circles around the eyes are a problem in summer’s heat and humidity, take heart; there is a simple remedy for relief.
Get two small cotton pads, such as for make-up application/removal, and soak the pads in cold milk. Place the pads on eyes for five minutes and then rinse. If swelling is severe, then repeat the procedure. Milk has anti-inflammatory properties to help with swelling, and the cold temperature of the compress helps shrink blood vessels, reducing the bluish discoloration.
Eczema and Psoriasis
If either eczema or psoriasis is a problem, summer’s heat may make redness and itching even worse. There are a number of useful over-the-counter products available, both of the conventional kind and the natural sort. Experimentation often works best to see what is most effective for your personal scenario. However, if you’ve tried many products and nothing seems to work very well, see a dermatologist at once.
What may have started out as an essentially “allergic” rash may have become infected with either fungus or bacteria somewhere along the way, and until proper treatment is acquired, the problem won’t go away and may even progress.
Also concerning eczema and psoriasis, before one goes to a doctor’s office and “pushes” for either strong steroidal creams or one of the new “biologic” drugs advertised on TV, a person should keep in mind that those two types of drugs can be quite expensive and dangerous to health. Those two groups of drugs have significant side effects and should be used as a last resort and for the shortest time possible at the lowest effective dose. A doctor’s close monitoring of your health and blood work will be a necessity.
Finally, and most importantly for summertime, limit sun exposure and wear sunscreen whenever sun exposure is going to be prolonged or when the sun is at its peak intensity in the sky. Uncomfortable sunburns are only “verse one” of sun overexposure. The deadly skin cancer, melanoma, can be the second, and ending, verse in the song of life. Better to be safe than sorry!
Take care of that summer skin and have a blazing good time during our hottest season of the year!