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Never ice a burn: What you need to know for summer skin woes

Summer heat, sun and outdoor activities sure can give our skin a beating.
/ Source: TODAY

Summer is an amazing time to enjoy the warm weather, grilling up burgers, swimming in the pool or simply enjoying carefree days outside. But our skin sure can take a bit of a beating.

Insect bites, sunburns and heat rash are no fun. To help make our summer a little more comfortable, without all that itching and scratching, NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar offered solutions for common skin troubles on TODAY Wednesday.

Bug bites

For bee stings, try to remove the stinger as quickly as possibly.

“The earlier you do, the less intense the sting will be,” Azar told Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. “You can pull it out usually. You can definitely tweeze it out as well.”

The treatment for a sting is to apply a cold compress, take an antihistamine like Benadryl or use a topical steroid, she said. For mosquito bites, the topical steroid will also ease the itch, though Azar also had an offbeat suggestion that involves a bit of spit.

“Some people think that the salty content of the saliva can kind of neutralize the sting a little bit,” she said. “I do it to my children and it works, but you won’t find a lot of science to support it.”


Sunblock on woman
Love your body, slather on sunscreen.Shutterstock

If you’re suffering from a painful sunburn, try a cold compress, a cool shower and lotions with aloe, menthol or camphor.

“A little trick that I think is quite useful is if you put the lotion in the refrigerator, it’s cooler,” Azar said. “It’s even more soothing.”

While the Internet is filled with home remedy ideas, Azar said: “As long as it’s not dangerous on an open blister, try and see what works for you.”

Fire burns

If you suffer a burn from a campfire or the grill, you should also apply the cold compress, just like with a sunburn.

“But importantly, you never want to put ice on a burn because that can kind of stick to the skin,” Azar said. “If there’s any concern that you’ve gotten to a second- or third-degree burn, with blisters, you do not want to put any lotion on it.”

But for a first-degree burn, which can cause redness, swelling and tenderness, aloe and a cold compress should do the trick.


Splashing in the pool is the easy part... how do you deal with the chlorine?
Splashing in the pool is the easy part... how do you deal with the chlorine? Shutterstock

“A lot of people say they have a chlorine allergy,” Azar said, but experts consider it to be a sensitivity.

Typically, chlorine can cause irritant dermatitis. “You can get that itchy, itchy skin,” Azar said. “In terms of it being a true allergy that can cause anaphylaxis, maybe not.”

One idea to avoid the problem is to look for a pool for a lower chlorine level but Azar said that would leave her worried about bacteria levels.

What makes your eyes red in the pool? Hint: it's not the chlorine

Heat rash

Here’s another reason to show a little more skin this summer as temps soar: Heat rash occurs mostly on parts of the body that are covered up and in infants who are swaddled and wearing too much clothing.

“You get this when it’s really, really hot and you’re sweating and it’s humid and it blocks the sweat glands,” Azar said. contributor Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter.