May 17, 2023

Spending lots of time outside is one of the best things about the summertime, but with it can come itchy, irritated skin. Not a fun way to spend your summer vacation! But we’re here to help! Here’s everything you need to know about summer skin rashes:

Common Summer Skin Rashes

Plant-related rashes, such as poison ivy, oak, and sumac, are probably the most common summertime skin problems. This type of rash is extra tricky because of how easily and quickly it can spread. Hikers, gardeners, and landscape workers are the most at risk for coming into contact with these dangerous plants, but since the oils can be transferred to other surfaces like clothing and shoes, it’s easy to become a culprit to the angry welts and blisters.

Classic heat rash occurs when sweat glands become blocked, usually caused by tight-fitting clothing combined with rigorous sweating. These red bumps can be painful when rubbing against clothing or when sweat comes into contact with them.

red rash on arm

Swimmer’s Itch is caused by tiny water parasites commonly found in lakes, ponds, and oceans. The parasites will burrow into the skin, resulting in red bumps, but will soon die and don’t cause further symptoms.

If you’ve been outside and later discover a rash developing in the shape of a bullseye, you’ve been infected by a tick and are in the early stages of Lyme disease and should see your doctor for treatment.

Sun exposure rashes can be more involved than sunburn. Brown or greyish spots typically appear on the face after a long day in the sun, and this condition is known as Melasma. Also, many people suffer from a sun allergy, and a side effect of some medications is sensitivity to the sun. You’ll notice red, very itchy bumps across bare skin, and in some cases, blisters.

Tips for Prevention

Poison ivy, oak, or sumac:

  • Learn what the plants look like, and stay away
  • Contact your doctor if the rash becomes too uncomfortable
  • Prescription-strength topical steroid or oral steroid is often needed

Heat rash:

  • Wear light-weight, cotton clothing
  • Stick to rigorous activity in the morning or evening on very hot days
  • Shower immediately after being outdoors when possible

Swimmer's itch:

  • Avoid known areas of shallow, infested water
  • Rub your skin with a towel right after being in the water. Parasites will burrow in the skin only when the water begins to evaporate.


  • Take breaks/seek shade whenever possible
  • Wear a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothes
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreen- at least SPF 30 and reapply consistently

Simple Treatments

cold compress on arm

One of the best ways to get immediate relief from summer skin rashes is a cool compress. This can help ease itching and stop swelling. A cold shower is another good option! Some things we recommend are to use gentle cleansers with warm water (not hot) and pat dry to not further irritate the area. Don’t use scented lotions or cosmetics directly on the rash. A calamine-medicated lotion can be used for poison oak, ivy, or sumac, or a 1% hydrocortisone cream can soothe many rashes. Stronger cortisone prescription creams are available for lingering skin problems.

Get relief from summer skin rashes with our help. Our locally-owned pharmacy is here to serve you! Our trained professionals have over 25 years of experience in excellent care and putting the customer’s needs first. Interested in learning more? Read these things to know about our Missouri pharmacy!