SOS: Save your skin this summer with Dr. Shikha Shah

Shachi Lavingia
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Dr Shikha Shah

Clinical and cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Shikha Shah helps us understand more about skincare in summer, things we need to do more of, and what we just can't avoid!

With summer here, a lot of us struggle with skincare, acne, and like a zillion doubts, we have that we usually ask Mr. Google because we aren't sure if these are legit enough for us to consult a dermatologist. Dr. Shikha Shah makes matters so much simpler for us by busting some myths and shining some light on skincare do's and don'ts during summer, including whether or not we need moisturizer in his scorching heat!

Here's what she has to say!

The most common thing I get told in summer is, "Doc, it's so hot outside, I obviously can’t use a moisturizer." Please don’t make this mistake. Your BFF this summer is your water-based moisturizer and

sunscreen. Let me throw some light on the science behind this and also on all the tips for this energy-consuming summer that’s here.

Our human body never stops to amaze me! When it's too hot, we sweat and the water and salts evaporate hence cooling down the skin and body which is the need of the hour. This is also called thermoregulation. We tend to get dehydrated and hence drinking water is a must but so is applying a moisturizer for hydration of the skin and keeping the skin barrier healthy.

Why apply a moisturizer when I am drinking enough water?

The first layer of your skin does not get moisture from within the body. It requires a moisturizer

from the outside and hence we need a good water-based moisturizer that does not clog our pores, unlike the creamy ones.

How many times do I wash my face?

You need to regularly wash your face in the morning and night. And in between at least twice with a mild cleanser followed by applying some ice and then your moisturizer and sunscreen, at least 20 minutes before you step out which will protect your skin from the harmful UV radiation, infrared, visible rays, and

blue light emitted from our gadgets. Avoid the ice if you have rosacea since it gets triggered with ice.

How do I pick a sunscreen that works for me?

Broad-spectrum means covering UVA and UVB, sun protection factor ie. SPF measures the protection against UVB- 30 to 50 and any will do for a climate in India. PA measures the protection against UVA rays so PA+++ or PA++++ either is okay. A physical + mineral sunscreen is good if you have sensitive skin or you need something for babies. Lip balm with SPF is a must too!

Why are we really getting tanned?

When the skin is exposed to damaging UV rays, our skin pigment melanin goes into a protective

mode to protect us from further damage. Since melanin is the pigment that gives us the color and it

is in full operation now, darkening of the skin occurs aka tanning. Applying sunscreen is a must to protect our skin from these harmful rays but the protection is never 100% so tanning is normal. It goes away on its own in a matter of 6 to 8 weeks. 2 weeks after the tanning you can consult your dermatologist and opt for topical applications like Glycolic acid, Vitamin C, and other antioxidants, and in-clinic treatments like microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and lasers.

What other tips to keep in mind?

- Wear light breathable fabrics like cotton. Light colors help reflect light instead of absorbing it.

- Wear footwear where there is enough ventilation and if that’s not possible change your socks often.

- Sweating creates a moist environment that is suitable for fungus to breed, leading to fungal infections on the skin and the nails. Wipe off the sweat with a wet tissue or napkin and keep it as dry as possible. Keep the underarm area shaved since hair holds moisture and the bacteria overgrowth can result in odor. You can apply 1% clotrimazole powder at night all over if itching takes place!

- Drink lots of water and consume fruits and veggies rich in water content like watermelons, cantaloupes, all fruits like oranges, grapes, tomatoes with Vitamin C, lettuce, zucchini, spinach, broccoli, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, and cauliflowers. Food rich in antioxidants like all the berries, all colored fruits, and vegetables

- Salty food increases sodium in the body causing water retention and forcing the body to dispose of this water either via urine or sweating. So avoid food with high sodium.

- Avoid sugar, spicy food, fatty food, caffeine, and alcohol.

- Keep makeup to a minimum since it can get clogged in the pores along with sweat and result

in acne.

What kind of hair routine to have?

- No dress size fits all so there is no rule regarding the number of times you can wash your hair

- Keep it simple, whenever your scalp gets oily wash it.

- Washing the hair gently with shampoo is like washing your face with a facewash.

- The idea is to remove all the dirt and oil buildup and keep it clean to avoid those scalp boils or any

fungal or bacterial infections.

- When you get a rash/redness/itching, take a bath and apply Lacto calamine lotion (avoid if allergic).

When to see a dermatologist?

- If your acne is pus-filled or painful and is not subsiding on its own.

- If you have a rash/sunburn that doesn’t settle within a day or is accompanied by swelling in any body


- If you have a fungal infection that is spreading. Typically, ringworm would look like a red annular patch with intense itching, most commonly seen in the groins, under the breast, or anywhere on the body. It requires intensive medical treatment for 2 months so it's important to show your skin doctor.

Dr. Shikha Shah covers all kinds of skincare tips and tricks on her Instagram that you'd love to check out!

Also Read: Get ‘gram ready with these summer skincare tips by beauty bloggers

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