Ask Dr. Kellett
My inbox is inundated with questions about summer skin issues, so I chased down our medical advisor, dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett of DLK on Avenue in Toronto, to help you out. Oh, and thanks for the lovely photos (note to self: do not check “What The Yuck?!” emails during lunch break).
Q: I got eaten alive by mosquitos or some other kind of bug at the cottage. Now I have red itchy welts on my legs and arms. Is there any way to speed up the healing process? I don’t want to be confined to wearing long pants all summer! -Tina O.
DLK SAYS: The most important thing to remember with insect bites, is to not pick at the lesions. Apply Polysporin on the lesions twice a day, and keep your hands off of them. Even though your skin is itchy, try to refrain from scratching. You can place ice cubes on the lesions to relieve the itch, as the ice will interfere with the itch receptors in the brain. Healing time is really dependent on the individual’s intrinsic healing time—for some, it can take a month or a year, and some people heal with red or brown spots. If these marks concern you, you can minimize their appearance with Lumenis One treatments [a.k.a. "IPL" or "photofacials"].
Q: I got a nasty rash from poison ivy, what should I do now? -Joseph
DLK SAYS: Remove yourself from the offending agent, and immediately wash the area with soap and water. See a dermatologist as fast as you can because there are many effective topical and oral treatments that can get this under control quickly.
Q: I started running (alot) several months ago and every since my forehead is a mess. I have these small pimple-like bumps all over. Some of the bumps are just a bit red and others look more like real pimples. I have no idea what to do. I clean my forehead after running and I always pin my bangs back. I don’t want to scrub too much to make the oiliness worse. Any thoughts? -Lauren S.
DLK SAYS: For runners who tend to break out, I often recommend that after running they use a gel-based exfoliating cleanser with small beads followed by applying a 5% benzoyl peroxide in a moisturizing gel. Note that the moisturizing gel base, in both products, ensures that the skin does not become too dry. After this, an alcohol-based, clear SPF 30 spray should be applied as runners are often exposed to ultraviolet light and need a sun protection product that will not cause breakouts.
Q: Do I need to switch up my skincare products in the summer? -Aneetha
DLK SAYS: If your face tends to get oilier in the summertime due to the increased humidity, switch your cream moisturizers to a lighter gel-based formula, and switch from a cream sunscreen to a clear sunblock spray, which is alcohol-based.
Q: I heard that retinol causes sun sensitivity. Should I stop using it in the summer? -Melissa B.
DLK SAYS: I always recommend a 1% retinol serum at night for patients concerned with acne and aging. As long as you’re careful in the sun and using proper sun protection techniques, you don’t need to change your retinol use.
Q: Can I continue to get laser treatments in the summer, or should I hold off until the fall? -Pam F.
DLK SAYS: Laser skin resurfacing treatments are safe in the summer if you do not intend to tan. To be certain, check with your dermatologist because there are many types of lasers out there.
Q: I’m pregnant, due in the fall. My skin is breaking out like crazy. I’ve heard so much about your Clear line for adult acne. Is the Polishing Gel Cleanser and acne treatment cream safe for pregnant women? What about a spray tan? -Louise L.
DLK SAYS: Yes, both the gel-based exofoliator and benzoyl peroxide Clarifying Acne Treatment are safe to use during pregnancy and also while nursing. In fact, there are also a multitude of acne-fighting treatments that dermatologists can do that are safe for pregnant women. An example of this would be the type of microdermabrasion we do at my clinic. Spray tans have not been tested for safety during pregnancy or nursing, so we really don’t know.
Read this story about a new mother’s battle with acne during her pregnancy.
Q: I get little red bumps a day after being outside. I’m going on a weeklong sun vacation, and someone told me that wearing sunscreen at night a few days before my trip could help ‘toughen up’ my skin, is this true? -Tom G.
DLK SAYS: No, unfortunately, you cannot build up your tolerance to the sun with sunscreen use at night. There are many factors to consider when dealing with a sun sensitivity. It is best to seek advice from your dermatologist.
Have a question for our skin-saving doc? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line “What The Yuck.”