Close-up of poison ivy plant and an arm that shows skin irritants with a red rash
Healthy Living

Summer Bummers: Four Common Skin Irritants and Rashes

May 30 2019

Summertime is quickly approaching which means more fun in the sun. It also means opening yourself up to summer skin irritants and rash problems that can quickly sideline your summer fun.

Here’s how to avoid four common skin irritants and rashes.

1. Poison Ivy: A vine or shrub that contains a substance called urushiol that creates an extremely itchy rash when it encounters skin.

  • Be aware of what these plants look like and stay away.
  • Use plastic bags to pull plants from the soil to avoid contact.
  • Keep skin covered as much as possible.
  • After removal/exposure to poison ivy, rinse any exposed skin with water.

2. Heat Rash: When sweat ducts become blocked and perspiration is trapped under your skin. When sweat cannot escape, it builds up under your skin, causing a rash and tiny, itchy bumps.

  • Wear light, loose fitting clothes.
  • Cool your body with a fan or in an air-conditioned room.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep the body hydrated.

3. Swimmers Itch: An itchy rash, caused by parasites, that appear after swimming in lakes, oceans, and other bodies of warm shallow water.

On warm, sunny days these parasites can release into the water, and while you’re swimming, burrow into your skin in areas your bathing suit doesn’t cover. These rashes will appear as tiny red spots, welt, and or blisters.

  • Rub your skin with a towel after exiting the water. The parasites burrow once you exit the water and your skin starts to dry.
  • Look for signs that tell you to stay out of the water.
  • Use waterproof sunscreen

4. Swimmers Ear: Water that gets stuck in your outer ear canal after swimming, soaking in a hot tub, or taking a shower/bath.

The moist environment aids bacteria growth and causes a painful infection.

  • Wear ear plugs while swimming
  • Keep ears dry and clean after swimming


If you’re concerned about dermatology issues or skin rashes, visit the Mercy Health Dermatology and Skin Care page.

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