Dr Rekha Seth

The swimming season has begun. Much as I'd like to be in the pool to relax and tone up, my skin tends to break out or get patchy. Any tips to avoid this?

This is the season to get fit, relax and enjoy the water. However, sun damage and public pools can trigger skin problems like these. SUN ALLERGY: Termed Polymorphic Light Eruption (PMLE), this is caused by harsh sunlight. You may find lighter or darker patches on the face and neck.

n Use pH-balanced shower gels to bathe. Avoid bar soaps as they tend to dry the skin further. n Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 50 or more, 20 to 30 minutes before swimming. Remember to re-use it immediately after your postswim shower. DERMATITIS: Your skin gets angry, turning red, sometimes leading to swellings. n Dab a moisturiser with soothing properties of clay or aloe vera on the affected area, 3 to 4 times a day. You can put the lotion you use in the fridge for an instant cooling effect. n Icing the area for 5 to 10 minutes a few times a day, can also curb irritation.

FUNGAL INFECTIONS: These can affect frequent swimmers and are usually common in areas that trap moisture like feet, armpits and groin. Symptoms include mild irritation to itchy and scaly skin. n Make sure you dry yourself off completely once you're done with your post-swim shower. n Dust talcum powder, particularly in the folds of the joints to avoid irritation. n Apply an antifungal cream containing clotrimazole bifonazole or terbinafine at night. Keep in touch with your dermat to ensure that you use the cream sparingly.

Dr REKHA SHETH is a leading cosmetic dermatologist in Mumbai. She is founder-president, Cosmetology Society of India and runs Yuva, a successful chain of skin clinics. Send your questions to askprevention@intoday.com

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