female child scratching a bug bite before visiting medhelp urgent care

Summer skin woes (and how your urgent care doctor can help)

Jun 01, 2021 Urgent Care Share:

Summer is here in Birmingham, and we’re all looking forward to time spent at the pool or lake, camping, and grilling out.

But whether it’s all the exposed skin or just more time spent outdoors, summer is a time when we see all kinds of skin issues in our urgent care clinics. From poison ivy to cellulitis, these skin issues can be more than a minor annoyance if they’re left untreated. Some skin issues may need the attention of an urgent care doctor.

Poison ivy and poison oak

Poison ivy and poison oak are some of the most common - and most uncomfortable - rashes of summer. Although you can be exposed to poison ivy and poison oak at any time of year, summer is a time when families love to camp, hike, and work in the yard. And because of the Alabama heat, most people don’t wear long sleeves and long pants.

Poison ivy and poison oak grow just about everywhere, and if you don’t know what to look for, you might get into one while you’re out in the woods. You may have heard the old saying, “Leaves of three, let them be.” Unfortunately, this isn’t reliable wisdom; poison oak can occur in groups of three, five, and seven leaves. If you’re exposed to this irritating foliage, it can take up to 72 hours for a rash to appear.

While a poison ivy or poison oak rash will eventually clear up on its own, these rashes can last up to three weeks. Scratching these itchy rashes can open up opportunities for infection, so it’s important to resist the temptation to scratch. Over-the-counter creams can provide some relief, but if the itching just gets to be too much, it might be time to see an urgent care doctor.

Your urgent care doctor can provide medications to help relieve your itching. You should also seek help from a doctor if your blisters start to ooze pus, which can indicate that your rash has become infected.

Insect bites

If you’re outside in the summertime, you’re probably going to get a few bug bites. Most bug bites are nothing to worry about, and a little over-the-counter cream can help relieve itching while they heal. Try to avoid scratching your bug bites, since even tiny breaks in the skin can lead to infection.

But some bug bites may need a little extra attention. Whether you’ve been bitten by a mosquito, tick, spider, or ant, you should always watch for changes around the skin at the site of the bite. New redness, swelling, and increased pain at the site of the bite more than 24 hours after a bite are all signs you should see an urgent care doctor. You should also see your doctor if you begin to experience fever or muscle aches following an insect bite.

Rarely, some insect bites will cause an allergic reaction. If you are having trouble breathing after an insect bite or sting, go directly to the emergency room. Minor allergic reactions (such as hives) can be treated by an urgent care doctor.

Sun rash and sun poisoning

The sun will always cause damage to unprotected skin. Wear sunscreen or protective clothing anytime you’re outside, but this protection is especially important in the summer when the sun is at its most intense. Your unprotected skin can burn in as little as fifteen minutes. But the sun can cause other issues besides sunburn.

Sun poisoning looks like a severe skin rash of small, dense groups of bumps over skin that has been exposed to the sun. Sun poisoning rash can be itchy and very uncomfortable. You may also develop hives from sun poisoning.

A sun poisoning rash can last for a week or more, and it can be very itchy. You may need to see an urgent care doctor for treatment if the itching becomes too uncomfortable. It’s better to get help for your rash than to run the risk of infection.

Chafing and fungal infections

Chafing and fungal infections are especially common in the summer. Chafing can occur any time there’s a combination of friction, moisture (like sweat), and fabric (or other skin). Athletes often see chafing on their thighs, especially on those summer runs and bike rides; however, anyone can experience chafing. The result is an uncomfortable red rash that can sting or burn.

You might experience a fungal rash in your armpits or on your feet, although fungus thrives in any warm, dark, moist area of your skin. These rashes are often red and irritated, and they can also be scaly or flaky. Fungal infections take many forms, and they often need medical attention.

There’s no need to be embarrassed by these rashes. While there are some over-the-counter topical treatments for these rashes, you may need oral medication to completely clear up your rash. Some over-the-counter creams can actually make your rash worse, so if you’re not sure what to do, it’s always better to ask your doctor. You can even schedule a telehealth appointment for these rashes.


Cellulitis occurs when bacteria get under the protection of the skin and causes an infection. Bacteria can get in any time the skin is compromised from a cut, insect bite, or a rash. You might have cellulitis if your skin is red, blotchy, streaky, or swollen. Your skin may also be tender or warm to the touch. You may have fever, chills, or a headache along with your skin symptoms.

You should never ignore cellulitis. It won’t go away on its own, and it will get worse if it’s left untreated. You almost always need antibiotics to treat cellulitis. If you have symptoms of cellulitis, don’t wait; visit an urgent care doctor today.

Your skin is your biggest, most aggressive defense mechanism, and when it’s compromised, you risk infection. While you can take steps to protect your skin through protective clothing, sunscreen, and insect repellent, you can’t always prevent summer skin woes.

If you do develop skin issues this summer, we’re here to help. If your skin issues don’t go away quickly, it’s worth it to see an urgent care doctor or your primary care doctor to get relief and to prevent or heal infections.

Don't let summer skin woes get you down.

We’ll get your skin back to health so you can get back to your summer fun.