Skin Care Precautions for Gardeners

garden 250xIt’s finally Summer and the garden is in full bloom. That can mean long hours out in the yard and in the garden. Avoid common skin problems due to exposure from the elements and gardening chemicals with these tips on how to best protect your epidermis while tending to the plants.
Keep Track of Time & Sun Exposure
Time flies when you’re having fun in the garden. But sunscreen doesn’t last all day. Re-apply sunscreen if it’s been over two hours. The sun’s rays are strongest mid-day, so at the very least, re-apply after lunch. If gardening means perspiring, it’s a great idea to use a water-resistant sunscreen. And every gardener needs a hat. Nothing says you’re a serious gardener – and serious about protecting your skin – like a special gardening hat. Hats aren’t only stylish, they help prevent skin cancers on the scalp and face – two places you really don’t want to have surgery.
Keep A First Aid Kit Handy
Every rose has its thorn, but don’t let minor cuts, bruises or scrapes turn in to something serious. Nip potential infections in the bud by treating minor injuries with a little rubbing alcohol and fresh bandages when they happen. Don’t try and tough it out. You’ll just get an infection. And bleeding all over the plants won’t prove to them how much you love them.
Always Wash Up
Fertilizer is great for the greens, but not our bodies. Wear gloves no matter what when spreading fertilizer, and always, always, always wash up afterward. Shower if you must. And don’t let potentially harmful bacteria infest garden gloves and other equipment. Wash garden gloves with a little chlorine bleach to disinfect them. If your garden gloves are like ours, they can often wind up as the oven gloves, the firewood gloves, or used for unscrewing hot light bulbs. Do you really want all these covered in fertilizer? Just wash them.
Treat Rashes Seriously
Pruning, weeding and tackling pesky vines can mean exposing yourself to some of nature’s more irritating vegetation – especially for your skin. Just because poison ivy is fairly rare in these parts, that doesn’t mean you aren’t susceptible to developing a rash from more common shrubs. Rashes and inflammation can be dangerous, and in some extreme cases, fatal. Pay attention to what your skin is telling you. If you start to develop hives, welts, or any other type of redness, back away from the sticker bush! Antihistamines and ointments can help, but if your rash persists seek dermatologic care.
Stay Hydrated
Just like hydrangeas, humans require a lot of water. Drink lots. The body distributes water to the skin last, so if you have dry skin, your body might be telling you it’s time to up the internal irrigation. Staying hydrated will also increase your gardening stamina.
Keep An Eye On Others
Grandma loves to garden, and she’s been doing it for close to a hundred years now, but even she might not know her limit. Keep an eye on the elderly. Watch for rashes, sunburns and other warning signs that they’ve had too much. Take breaks, seek the shade and cool off.
Provide Shade For Guests
Throwing an evening dinner party just so you can show off our posies? Get out the table umbrella! The sun can stick around well in to the evening, so its a good idea to provide your backyard guests some shade. After all, nobody likes a sunburn as a party favor.
Garden At Night
No, this isn’t a joke. If you’re sensitive to sun and burn easily, but can’t stand the idea of not being out in the garden, switch to the night shift. Completely eliminate your sun exposure risk by gardening in the evening or before sunrise. Compact LED headlamps make it possible to do many gardening activities when the sun is down. You might even catch the mysterious critter that’s been munching on theĀ arugula.

About Westside Dermatology

Brent Lampe is the Manager of Westside Dermatology - Seattle's premier skin specialty clinic.
This entry was posted in Medical Dermatology, Skin Care. Bookmark the permalink.

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