Preventing Sunburn and Poison Ivy This Summer

With the sun shining brighter and warmer, it is no wonder we want to be out enjoying the wonderful summertime weather. However, there are some parts of summer that aren’t as enjoyable and can be potentially dangerous for your skin, namely sunburns and poison ivy.

“Summer is the time to get out and enjoy the great weather, but there are a few hazards in the great outdoors that can lead to discomfort and disrupt summer fun,” says Five Star Urgent Care Regional Medical Director Dr. LouAnne Ten Kate.

Poison Ivy and sunburn are two of the most common skin ailments that arise during the summer months. As with most of these ailments, prevention is key. When camping, hiking or in a forested area, wear long sleeves and long pants. Vinyl gloves can prevent exposure when gardening or doing yard work. Be aware of the plants that you are in contact with while outdoors. Remember the childhood rhyme: “Leaves of three, let it be.” If exposed to poison ivy, the rash of poison ivy will last 1-3 weeks without treatment. Some treatments performed at home can help with symptoms. Calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, and cool compresses can help with the itch. Astringents, like Burrow’s solution and Domboro, may help with the rash. Sedating antihistamines can make sleeping easier, but if the rash spreads to the face or becomes unbearable, prescriptions can be given to help symptoms and discomfort.


To prevent sunburns and other damage from the sun, be aware of the UV index and apply sunscreens with an SPF of at least 30 with UVA and UVB protection 15 minutes prior to going outside. This may also be a good time to break out your new hat and sunglasses for added UV protection. Reapply sunscreen 20 minutes after being outside and every two to three hours throughout the day. Sunscreen should also reapplied after swimming or sweating. If you skin begins to turn red, blister and become painful upon touch, chances are the sun has taken its toll. Over the counter remedies can be used to alleviate pain. When you have severe pain and blistering, seek medical attention.