When to Seek Care for Common Summer Rashes

Summer can be tough on the skin. While we enjoy days in the sun and some relaxation, nature takes its toll on our dermatologic system. An array of rashes can occur due to things like poisonous plants or even the heat itself.

Most of the time, you won’t need to seek medical care for a rash. However, there are some exceptions. Knowing the difference between a serious rash and a mild one is an important one. So, while you enjoy everything that summer has to offer, be sure to brush up on some of the most common summer rashes and when you should seek treatment for them.

Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

When participating in outdoor activities like hiking or camping, it’s easy to come into contact with a plant like poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Their leaves contain the toxin urushiol, which causes an allergic reaction in many people.

Within 48-72 hours of coming into contact with one of these plants, you’ll likely notice a red, itchy, and swollen rash. Symptoms may continue worsening for up to five days. Most poison ivy rashes go away on their own, but a bit of calamine lotion may help with itching in the meantime.

Some cases of poison ivy, oak, or sumac require medical care. If the rash is severe, doesn’t start to clear after 7 to 10 days, or affects your eyes, face, or genitals, you should check in with a doctor.

Heat Rash (Miliaria)

Did you know that heat itself can cause a rash? When it’s extremely hot out, the sweat ducts found all over your body can become blocked. This stops sweat from coming out of your skin. In turn, it causes itching and some discomfort.

You may also notice a red or pink rash. Commonly known as heat rash or miliaria, it frequently occurs in areas that are covered in thick clothing or lotions.

Generally, sitting in an air-conditioned area and taking a cool shower is enough to ease the pain. Heat rash will usually go away on its own after a day or two as the skin cools down. However, if it doesn’t go away after three or four days, it likely isn’t heat rash and may be something more serious. In this case, you should contact your doctor.

Cercarial Dermatitis (Swimmer’s Itch)

Many people enjoy taking a dip in the lake or river to cool off during the summer. Unfortunately, the water can be contaminated and cause health issues. Swimming in contaminated lake water can expose the skin to parasites that cause a rash called cercarial dermatitis, or swimmer’s itch. It appears as a red, patchy, and itchy rash that develops within 48 hours.

Generally, the rash-causing parasites come from bird droppings. To avoid this problem, you should avoid swimming in stagnant water where bird populations are high.

Most cases of swimmer’s itch clear up on their own. If it doesn’t, or the itching is severe, consider visiting your doctor for a prescription-strength lotion or cream to address the symptoms.

Athlete’s Foot

Anyone who has stepped in a locker room knows about athlete’s foot. Going barefoot in areas like pools, gyms, or locker rooms puts you at risk for catching the fungus that causes athlete’s foot.

Most people experience itching around skin that looks white, dry, or scaly. To avoid athlete’s foot, always wear shoes in places where there is moisture and other people walking around barefoot.

Like most other rashes, athlete’s foot usually goes away relatively easily. A basic antifungal treatment should be effective. If it isn’t, you may need to visit the doctor for more potent medical treatment.

Insect Bites and Stings

Although not all of them do, many insect bites and stings can cause a rash. This is typically the result of an allergic reaction to the bite and isn’t cause for concern.

However, if an insect bite is associated with hives, trouble breathing, or dizziness, it could be a sign of anaphylaxis—a serious and life-threatening condition. If this occurs, seek emergency medical care immediately.

How Velocity Urgent Care Can Help?

If you experience a rash that doesn’t clear up on its own this summer, Velocity Urgent Care has your back. Our team of caring providers will examine your rash and ask about your symptoms to determine what caused it. Then, we can provide a prescription to address those symptoms and help your rash clear up.

For more serious skin conditions, we can refer you to a board-certified dermatologist—no visit to your primary care doctor needed.

It can take a long time to get an appointment with a dermatologist in normal times. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most dermatologists are even more booked than usual. That doesn’t mean you need to wait. Velocity Urgent Care is open and ready to treat your summer rashes and any other concerns you have.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking serious safety precautions to ensure that our locations are as clean as possible. We’ve put strict sterilization protocols into place and are carefully handling patients who may be contagious to ensure that each one of our clinics is safe for those who need urgent medical care or testing.

Don’t put your health at risk by waiting to seek out treatment!

Velocity Urgent Care offers convenient online registration that helps you limit your contact with others during a visit. You can sign up for an appointment online ahead of time and arrive when it’s time to be seen to skip the waiting room. We even offer text message updates so you can wait in the car (if you prefer) until it’s time for your appointment.  Registration on your device also means no contact with tablets or clipboards.

Velocity Urgent Care is an in-network provider for most major insurance plans, meaning you can be seen for the cost of your co-pay and deductible. All of our locations also accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Veterans Administration beneficiaries are also welcome.

To find out more about our services, locations, hours, and more, visit www.velocityuc.com.  We are currently open in Virginia Beach (4), Norfolk (2), Suffolk (2), Newport News, Williamsburg, Gloucester, South Boston and Woodbridge.