Summer Skin

By Dr Alva Zhou, dermatologist at ParkwayHealth 2019-11-22 10:29:31

With the summer season comes high temperatures and humid air meaning our skin becomes increasingly sweaty and oily. For some this isn’t an issue, however, for others this can lead to a variety of skin issues and irritations.

Prickly heat

As our bodies are constantly producing sweat, to counteract summer heat, this can overload our sweat ducts leading them to become clogged and subsequently trap sweat within the deep layers of our skin. This trapped sweat then irritates the skin causing a rash and tiny, itchy bumps or blisters to appear known as ‘prickly heat’, or ‘heat rash’. The overproduction of sweat can also trigger more breakouts if you or your teen have acne-prone skin.

Steps you or your teen can take to prevent prickly heat/ clogged pores in summer:

• Blot, don’t wipe, sweat from your skin with a clean towel or cloth. Wiping sweat off can irritate your skin which can lead to a breakout.

• Wash sweaty clothes/ towels before using them again.

• Use non-comedogenic products on your face, neck, back, and chest. The label may also say “oil free” or “won’t clog pores.”


Folliculitis is the infection or inflammation of hair follicles. Each and every hair on your body grows out of an opening called a follicle. Humidity and warmth of the skin attract bacteria and fungus infection causing your follicles to become infected. At first glance, infected hair follicles often look like pimples, as they are red, raised and tend to be itchy and tender, but don’t be tempted to pop them as this will just make them worse!

Ways to reduce your risk of getting folliculitis:

• Immediately after your workout, change out of tight workout clothes and take a shower.

• Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes when it’s hot and humid.

• Try to avoid hot tubs and whirlpools especially if you’re unsure whether the chlorine levels are properly controlled. The number of people who contract folliculitis from hot tubs is so common that there is even a condition called “hot tub folliculitis.”

NOTE: If the situation doesn’t appear to be improving, consult a dermatologist for further treatment.

Dry, irritated skin

When outdoor air is hot and humid, you can still have dry, irritated skin. The biggest culprits are spending time in the sun, pool, and air conditioning.

If your skin starts to feel dry and
irritated despite the humidity try these tips:

• Shower immediately after getting out of the pool using a mild cleanser or body wash made for swimmers.

• Apply sunscreen before going outdoors using one that offers broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30+, and is water resistant.

• Use a mild cleanser to wash your skin. Soaps and body washes labeled “antibacterial” or “deodorant” can dry out your skin.

• Wash in warm rather than hot water.

• Slather on a fragrance-free moisturiser after every shower and bath, and carry hand cream with you so you can apply it after washing your hands .

• Turn the thermostat up a little if the air conditioning makes your home too dry.

While a little sun exposure is important for supporting a healthy lifestyle e.g. activation of vitamin D synthesization and synthesis of endorphins (happy hormones), it is also important to recognise that too much sun exposure can be quite harmful. Issues such as skin cancer, and also the activation melanocytes that make those brown to gray-brown patches on your face more noticeable are amongst the things to be wary of.

Here are our top skin tips for summer:

1. If you’re going to be outside, try staying in the shade, especially around midday, as this will limit your UV exposure.

2. Try to avoid spending too much time in sweaty clothes.

3. Wear a hat to protect your head, face, and neck.

4. Wear sunglasses that block UV rays to protect your eyes and the skin around them.

5. Try to wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.

6. Apply sunscreen every day even if you are only going to be exposed for a short period of time.

7. Drink plenty of water throughout the day even if you don’t feel thirsty and encourage your children to do the same.

Dr Alva Zhou


Department: Dermatology

Language: English, Mandarin

Special interest in general dermatosis of adults and children, skin screening, dermatology out-patient operations, laser treatment, cosmetic dermatology, Botox injection and chemical peeling.

Clinic: Gleneagles Medical and Surgical Centre



Telephone: 400-819-6622