Summer 2023 has officially arrived and in my neck of the woods we have been experiencing the worst of summer weather for the past few weeks. Over 40 summers spent in South Texas and this is by far the hottest in my memory.
Living a life inside or going out only during the cool of the morning isn’t always possible or feasible. The day before this, I was outside in full sun, in the peak heat of the day with temperatures at 107⁰F and a heat index of 114⁰F for several hours for something I had a prior commitment for.
Pictured Kristen Bollard L, Eris Hilburn R, photo courtesy Misty Clements
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure-Benjamin Franklin
How do I navigate summer so that I can keep a handle on my flares and can still be productive? I have an HS tool kit just for summer. This kit does not stop me from flaring, however it does help give me a little more control over my flares.
One of the most important things to start with is to arm yourself with information. Know your medications, what reactions they have to the sun or heat if any. This information can be found on the insert lists or by talking to your doctor or pharmacist.
Next we are going to build our individual HS tool kits. What you need and want in your summer tool kit is probably going to look a little different than what I keep in mine, and that’s perfectly OK. These are just some ideas to start. Depending on how you and your HS react to the heat and sun, environmental factors and other things, you need a kit that works best for you.
Starting out, how are we going to carry around all of this stuff?
I found this tool box at Dollar Tree, it even has a little tray inside. This tool box is light but the down side is it is a little small, so depending on what you want to keep in your tool kit, it may not be right for you. I also make different HS tool kits depending on different aspects of HS such as wound care. Other great ways I have found to carry around items are reusable shopping bags or dedicated tote bags. Because this is a summer tool kit, handles are important so that it can be carried around. Leaving this kit in a car in summer temperatures could end up with some damaged products.
One thing I like to keep in all of my tool kits is some single use grocery sacks. If your outside time is away from facilities, such as hiking then you have a perfect disposal system for when you are not able to immediately throw things away.
First, body wipes. I have 3 different body wipes available to me. My HS does not like sweat on my skin so I want to get it off as soon as I can if I’m not able to immediately shower. I keep facial wipes, baby wipes, and if I need something stronger for my body than a baby wipe, I have found personal washcloths, they are also about 4 to 5 times larger than a baby wipe and the materials are a little stronger. One thing about me is I am a huge fan of the adult incontinence section. There are some great products in that section that help me on my HS journey and that I keep in several tool kits. These are HEB brand, which is a local store brand, however Dollar Tree also carries a brand in their bath section. I have tried both, they are pretty gentle with a light smell and have both been opened about a year while retaining their moisture.
If I know it is going to be several hours after all of my sweating before I am able to get home and shower, I also make sure to grab a change of fresh clothes and that the clothes I choose are ones that will help to wick away the sweat and keep as much off my skin as possible.
Protecting my skin is very important to me. Between leaking HS, sweat, heat, and certain medications all 4 can create a vicious summer cycle that feed off of each other and make my HS worse along with other medical ailments and take months of effort for me to clear up. I will start with the diaper rash cream or calmoseptine which can also be found in the incontinence section and apply to all of my skin fold areas. If I’m outside and sweating for prolonged periods of time, I may need to reapply. I make sure to use baby wipes or the personal wash cloths first if I’m unable to shower.
Due to some medication treatments for HS, I have been left with a photo sensitivity. Last year I started to develop a pretty gnarly rash on my hands and was diagnosed with photosensitive dermatitis. In layman’s terms, that pretty much means if I want to go into the outside between April and October, my arms and hands have to be covered. I found some sun sleeves that do the trick, and some pretty neat cotton gloves that have a special index finger that allow me to use a touch screen. What I really like about the sun sleeves is even though it stops me from burning, it protects my worst affected area while also tanning evenly with what isn’t covered. Sun hats, sun glasses, lip balm with Sun screen, and sun screen are all Staples of my summer tool kit.
Some other wearable items to keep me cool, especially if I’m working outside are a cooling towel and a small wearable fan which are awesome tools to have. A tip is once the end of summer clearance section begins, I stock up on these. I have gotten cooling towels for as low as $0.75. While summer may be close to over at that point, for me the towels are useful for a majority of the year and I can stock up for next year as well.
Prescription medication. This is going to be different for everyone. In addition to HS, I have a condition called Hyperhydrosis. That means I sweat at an almost comical rate. Especially during the summer months, my Hyperhydrosis can make my HS as well as other health conditions I have flare up. My doctors are able to help with preventative medication so that my other conditions that can make my HS worse are kept in check.
Every summer, without fail, no matter how hard I try, I also recieve an initial summer burn. And it’s BAD. Part of my summer kit is a big bottle of Aloe Vera gel. After a pretty bad burn one year, a pharmacist recommended I keep my aloe gel in the refrigerator. It felt like heaven on my skin, and I have been keeping my aloe vera gel there ever since.
Do you have an HS summer tool kit? What do you keep in it?