Rashes You Can Get On Vacation

With spring break right around the corner, let’s talk about the different types of rashes that will pop up for people on vacation!

  1. Phytophotodermatitis is also known as “Margarita Burn” or “Lime” disease, as in the citrus fruit. This can be common when vacationing in tropical areas. Contact with a sun-sensitive plant like limes, lemons, celery, figs, meadow grass, certain weeds, and oil of bergamot are the most common triggers. The rash usually pops up 24 hours after you have been exposed and in the sun. The rash usually looks like “drip marks” and follows the lines or the pattern of where you were exposed. This rash will go away with time. Avoid sun exposure in those areas; using some OTC Zyrtec or hydrocortisone can help with itching and burning symptoms. One thing to know is that after the symptoms improve, the red or pink coloration can last for months but ultimately resolve on its own.
  2. Urticaria/hives from plants, insects, contact with a scented fabric detergent, or prolonged intense sun exposure. We are exposed to many things our skin may not be used to while on vacation. Cooling things like a cold shower and ice packs are going to help improve symptoms quicker. Heat can cause hives to spread and be more itchy. Over-the-counter Zyrtec and steroids will help get your hives away. We recommend continuing treatment for a few days after your hives are gone.
  3. Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash from ingredients in sunscreens or other lotions, disinfectants, bug bites, etc. The most important part is to identify and eliminate whatever the triggering exposure is. Once you have eliminated the exposure, you can treat your symptoms with ice packs, otc antihistamines like zyrtec, and topical steroids. If you are having a hard time identifying what exactly is giving you a rash, Tareen Dermatology can help identify the specific ingredient that is triggering the use of a process called patch testing.
  4. Heat rash occurs when sweat ducts become clogged. The sweat then becomes trapped underneath the skin, resulting in an itchy, prickly sensation. It is most common in sun-exposed areas but also more likely to happen in areas with concentrated sweat glands like armpits, groin, and buttocks. To help with symptoms immediately, remove tight, constrictive, or wet clothing and move to a cool, less humid environment. Cool compresses and over-the-counter topical steroid creams can be helpful as well.
  5. “Hot tub” folliculitis, hot tubs can expose you to a specific type of bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This bacteria can get in the area around your hair follicles and cause itchy red bumps. Prevent this by removing your swimwear shortly after leaving a hot tub and showering with soap. Also, make sure to wash your swimwear each day. You can use a topical antibacterial wash like hibicleanse but you may need oral antibiotics from a healthcare provider.

Lastly, sunburn is the most common rash on vacation. Prevention is key! Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ and reapply every 2 hours. Make sure your sunscreen is considered broad spectrum. We prefer sunscreens with ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Some of our favorite brands include Blue Lizard and Elta MD. You can also purchase clothes with built-in sun protection. Do not forget hats and sunglasses; the skin around your eyes is very sensitive to the sun. If you do find yourself with a sunburn, over-the-counter hydrocortisone may help for the first few days, and oral antihistamines can help with the itching that occurs with peeling. Make sure to stay well hydrated!