It has been a record year of heat in the United States with temperatures in much of the country hitting triple digits for extended periods of time. Being outside in California's Death Valley would have had you see 130 degree days at the peak of the heat and we're not even in August yet.
Summer heat is continuing to get worse and the impacts it is having on our environment around us is palpable. The heat is also having a continued impact on the skin of each and every one of us over the course of a long, hot summer. As temperatures continue to rise it is important to know what kind of damage it can do to your skin so you can then protect your skin from the heat.
To be clear, we are now talking about heat exposure and not sun exposure. While they seemingly go hand in hand, heat exposure has slightly different impacts that need to be addressed in their own way.
1. Dehydration. When the heat index is over 100 your body will continue to sweat and excessive sweating leads to dehydration. This is damaging to your skin in the short and long term.
2. Heat rash. While heat rash is temporary, it is never a good thing for your pores to be blocked to the point that you will start to see red bumps all over your skin. The best thing you can do to prevent this is to wear light, loose clothes, and do your best to stay cool throughout the day.
3. Heat edema happens when your body swells at your extremities. In most cases this is not long-term damaging and will go away when you cool down, but if you begin to feel pain when this happens you should speak with a medical provider.
The two best things you can do to battle these afflictions when the heat index is soaring is to drink lots of water and stay out of the heat at peak times, like mid-afternoon when the sun is at it's hottest. Most of these afflictions can be heeled over time and will not do lasting damage, but left untreated or addressed they may lead to longer term health problems that you will want to avoid.