Chub rub, itchy skin and other weird summer bod Qs...answered!
Ah, summer. It's the time for endless days, starry nights and...cramps? Ugh. We asked experts how to nix and x your most annoying warm-weather body probs...so you can get into an awesome vacay groove, no sweat. Dive in, girl.
"My skin always itches when I get out of the water—are the pool and the ocean secretly bad for me?"
Going for a quick dip can be refreshing, but the aftermath can be harsh. Let's start with the pool. Simply put, chlorine's a chemical, so it's normal for your body to have a reaction after you swim. "Excessive exposure to chlorinated pool water may lead to dry, irritated, itchy skin," says Dr. Janet Prystowsky, a dermatologist in New York City. While the ocean's not as cruel as chlorine, saltwater also can strip moisture from your skin, especially when combined with the sun and sand. Get rid of the itch by showering off in fresh water as soon as you can, then applying a rich moisturizer with shea butter, advises Dr. Shilpi Agarwal, a Los Angeles-based family physician. An oatmeal bath once a week also can work to keep your skin soft and itch-free.
"My older sister told me I can get a yeast infection if I hang out in a wet bathing suit for too long. Is she right?"
This time, your sis definitely knows best. A warm, wet environment—like a damp bikini—is an ideal breeding ground for yeast, says Dr. Agarwal (same for post-workout sweaty shorts). Too much yeast down there can cause a change in the chemical balance of your vagina, leading to an infection—a condition that's more common than you may think. To avoid it, change out of your wet gear quickly, and aim to quickly rinse off with mild soap and water. And if you start to experience any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms (like pain when you pee, itchiness or a cottage cheese-like discharge), check in with your doc for a diagnosis.
"I'm on the swim team, and I'm constantly walking around barefoot in the locker room (yuck, I know). Am I going to get warts?"
Hate to say it, but you actually do risk picking up a little something when stepping on those slippery surfaces, which can be crawling with bacteria and other icky stuff. Whether they are fungal (like athlete's foot) or viral (like plantar warts), these foot problems are common—and treatable—pitfalls of summer, says Dr. David Dragoo, a physician in Columbia, Mo. Take a step in the right direction by wearing flip-flops every second you're not in the pool. Your tootsies will thank you for it—trust us.
"I was swimming laps when both of my feet suddenly cramped up. It was so painful. Should I be worried?"
No need to fret, but you should up your water consumption. Dehydration is the most common cause of muscle cramps while swimming, along with a lack of electrolytes and muscle fatigue. If you work out on the regular, aim to drink at least half an ounce of H2O per day for each pound you weigh. (Example? A 120-pound girl should shoot to sip 60 ounces daily.) Coconut water and foods high in potassium, like bananas and sweet potatoes, are powerful cramp-slayers. And stretching also can prevent cramps, so limber up before jumping in.
"When I run, my thighs touch, leaving them red and raw. This problem gets way worse in the summer. Help!"
Aye, there's the rub. Chafing—the skin irritation caused by friction—is an annoying (and painful) ailment among many athletes in the summer. "The best way to prevent this is to wear fitted gear, since loose clothing can actually increase the friction that occurs, especially between the thighs," says Dr. Agarwal, who adds that you also can experience chaffing in your bra area or armpits. "Dress in sweat-wicking fabrics that are tight, but not super uncomfortable." Applying lubricant like Body Glide or Vaseline to your chafe-prone parts before and after your workout can help reduce rubbing and soothe irritation.
"After yesterday's workout, I had tons of white bubbles on my skin. And last week, I saw some red bumps. What's up?"
Blame the heat. "Working out in hot weather can cause both heat rash and sweat blisters," explains Dr. Agarwal. "The small red bumps you see are the heat rash, which often goes away after you head indoors and cool down." As for the tiny blisters? They're the result of clogged sweat glands, which can occur if you're overheated or sunburned. Help the blisters heal by keeping the area clean and dry, and applying an antibacterial ointment like Bacitracin (talk to a doc if your skin starts to look infected). Prevent these sitches by working out when the sun's not as strong, and always apply a sweat-proof sunscreen. You'll be back to your sunny self in no time.
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