1. Keep your showers short: ‘Long or frequent showers and lengthy swims in chlorinated pools or the surf can cause skin rashes and dryness,’ says Dr Patricia Lowe, a dermatologist at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. So keep those swims short and make sure your bath and shower water temperature is tepid, not hot. To avoid irritating sensitive skin, use a hypoallergenic wash instead of soap and, after swimming, remove your wet costume and dry your skin, advises Lowe.
2. Drink up: ‘Perspiration in summer leads to greater fluid loss,’ says diabetes educator Sue Leahy of Diabetes NSW. ‘If you become thirsty or your urine turns dark yellow you’re likely to be dehydrated. This can raise blood glucose levels and compromise your skin health.’ To prevent dehydration, always carry a water bottle and aim to drink up to two litres of water a day. If you want to add a bit of zing to tap water include a twist of lime or a sprig of mint in your glass.
3. Choose natural fabrics: Unlike synthetic fabrics, clothes made from natural fibres such as cotton or silk lessen the effects of perspiration and allow your skin to breathe, so opt for cotton T-shirts, bras, undies and socks. During the day, wearing light, long-sleeved collared shirts in a tight cotton weave will also help protect your arms and neck from sunburn.
4. Keep skin moisturised: Moisturiser is one of the most effective soothers for dry and itchy summer skin, so remember to apply it at least once, and preferably twice, a day. Choose a product that is hypoallergenic and free of perfumes and irritants.
5. Show your feet some TLC: Care for your hard-working tootsies by wearing suitable footwear. ‘Sandals with a back and sides are far better than flip-flops and thongs, which leave your feet vulnerable to cuts and scratches,’ says Leahy. To reduce swelling, wear compression stockings and elevate your feet when sitting or sleeping. Leahy advises daily checks for injuries, particularly if you have neuropathy. Another good tip is to change your socks or stockings (and shoes) halfway through the day to keep your feet dry. ‘Towel between your toes to reduce dampness and possible bacterial growth, and wear thongs in public showers to minimise the risk of picking up a fungal foot infection,’ says Leahy.
By Stephanie Osfield