Being in the hot humid environment that occurs in this area during August and September is bearable with air conditioning, but the game changes when there is no power for air conditioning or refrigeration. Over an extended period of time in this high temperature humid environment your skin starts to become effected resulting in a number of bothersome changes.
Here is a list of skin tips that should be helpful with various issues that might come up.
Heat exposure without the benefit of our usual air condition controlled environments makes it easier to develop bacterial infections such as infected hair follicles or folliculitis. This infection can occur on any hair bearing area including the scalp, back, shoulders, chest, buttocks, or thighs.
Intertrigo refers to a type of rash that you might get that involves the skin folds, such as underarms, inner thigh areas, or other areas where there is prolonged skin to skin contact. You can think of it as skin layered on top of itself in the same way as a napkin folds over with one side over the other. At times, other organisms such as yeast can grow secondarily in the areas of intertrigo making the problem more complicated and harder to get rid of.
In environments with lots of heat, moisture gets trapped into these folds and after your skin reaches a certain point, the folds become moist, irritated and inflamed. This was a frequent occurrence after the hurricane related power outages. Without a way to cool off, more and more individuals developed this type of problem.
Miliaria is the medical term for heat bumps and they can range from small pinpoint raised areas on the skin filled with clear fluid to red bumpy areas with pimple like collections of pus on the surface. This condition develops because the high humidity levels and heat cause the sweat ducts to become obstructed trapping some of the fluid under the surface. It is necessary to find a way to get out of the hot, humid environment for this condition to improve.
Fungal or ringworm infections can also occur more commonly in the high heat and humidity, especially on the feet as well as the groin area in susceptible individuals. On the body, this type of rash usually has a raised scaly border and is clearer in the middle progressively spreading to involve a larger and larger area. On the feet you might notice blisters or dry scaly patches that are very itchy and sometimes leading to cracks and splits between the toes. In children, the problem shows up more on the scalp with dry, scaly patches and sometimes areas of baldness.
Eczema tends to flare up with fluctuations in heat and cold, so for those individuals who have the tendency to get this itchy, irritating rash, high heat and humidity has the potential to make their lives much more miserable.
So, in addition to taking the necessary precautions of getting water, can goods, batteries, flash lights and other emergency items in preparing for hurricane season, it would be a good idea to add the following to your inventory:
1) An absorbent powder such as Zeasorb-AF (available over the counter without prescription). This product can be used a couple of times a day in the skin folds to absorb moisture and help decrease the likelihood of developing intertrigo or fungal infections. The AF component refers to its anti-fungal properties that can help eliminate ringworm or yeast infections.
2) Wear cotton clothing and avoid synthetic fabrics contacting your skin as this has a greater tendency to generate more sweating and make it easier to get heat bumps
3) Consider getting some dry ice along with your regular ice and use this to cool your environment and provide relief from the heat, even if it is only for an hour or two a day. This can make a big difference.
4) Pick up a tube of 1% hydrocortisone cream to use if any itchy areas occur, however if this is used to treat a ringworm infection it won’t work and could make the rash worse so you have to keep that in mind.
5) Use an anti-bacterial soap or antiseptics to help prevent bacterial infections.
The tips above should help to keep your skin as close to normal as possible should you find yourself in an environment without power or air conditioning if a hurricane happens to come your way.