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Simple summer skin care

Playing in the summer sun can be fun, but it can also take its toll on your skin. Don’t let hot-weather skin hazards drive you indoors. Arm yourself with simple skin care remedies to get you back in the summertime swing.

Bug off

There’s no escaping it. Whether you live in the city or the country, if you spend time outside during the summer, you’re bound to be bitten by some type of insect. Luckily, most insect bites and stings heal by themselves, and you won’t need to visit a doctor.

If you are stung by a bee, remove the stinger by swiping at it with a hard-edged object such as a credit card or a fingernail. After cleaning the area, apply ice to reduce any swelling. Use hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, a local anesthetic containing benzocaine or a baking soda paste to soothe the sting. Try an antihistamine to relieve itching, redness and swelling. (Do not give antihistamines to children under age 2 without consulting your doctor.)

Caution: If you’re allergic to bee stings, seek medical help immediately. For pesky mosquito bites, apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching and redness. For most people, mosquito bites are annoying but harmless.

Too hot to handle

By now, you should know the harmful effects of the sun. While baking your body on the beach may feel good, overexposure to the sun is also the leading cause of skin cancer. Of course, the best treatment is prevention.

Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and protective clothing and use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Reapply sunscreen often throughout the day.

Cool, wet compresses; baths; and soothing lotions with aloe vera provide some relief for minor burns. Topical steroids, such as hydrocortisone cream, can help reduce pain and swelling.

A severe sunburn accompanied by fever, chills, upset stomach and confusion means you should see a doctor right away.

Prickly situation

Heat rashes are common when the weather is hot and humid. You might find tiny, red pimples in the crook of your arm, under your chin, behind your knees or on your chest or back.

To relieve discomfort, dry your skin thoroughly after you bathe. Sprinkle yourself with a body powder made from cornstarch. Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching. Call your doctor if the rash doesn’t go away within a few days or if you develop an infection.

A raw deal

Hives are another itch irritant caused by the sun. These raised red welts can form on any part of your body. Whatever you do, don’t scratch! This will only make them worse—and can lead to scarring. An antihistamine can help. Avoid harsh soap and vigorous towel drying. The good news is that most hives only last about 24 hours.