Cooling a Sunburn

The overexposure to the sun is damaging. Whether you tan or burn, your skin has already gone through a process of UV rays that cause inflammation and sometimes swelling, blistering, peeling, and pain.

Prevention and precautions are the most important in treatment. Applying sunscreen (SPF 15, at least), wear UV-protective sunglasses, and limiting your time in the sun will help avoid this problem. Stay out of the sun when it’s high in the sky; this is when the UV rays are more intense (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Choose clothing that
covers your skin - hats, lightweight, long-sleeved shirts. Pure aloe vera rubbed into the skin can help to heal. Take antioxidants to help block the chemical reactions that can trigger cancer’s uncontrolled cell growth. A suntan is a warning. It tells you that your skin has been burned. Ignore repeated warnings, and you may end up with wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer.

Here are some tips to protect your skin:

* Limit your time in the sun. Avoid the strongest ultraviolet (UV) sunlight, which is between midmorning and midafternoon. Be aware that UV light reflected from water, sand, snow and cement can be as intense as direct sunlight. Sunlight intensity increases as you get closer to the equator. It also increases about 4 percent with every 1,000-foot increase in elevation. Clouds can block brightness but may allow up to 80 percent of UV light to reach your skin. Wear protective clothing and sunglasses. Loose, long-sleeved cotton shirts and hats with at least a 4-inch brim offer good protection. Sunglasses should have at least 99 percent protection against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) sunlight. Wearing sunglasses is particularly important when you’re around water and snow, where failure to use eye protection can result in a painful burn to the outer layer of your eye (cornea) and temporary blindness.

* Use sunscreen. Many moisturizing and makeup products now contain nongreasy sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. They’re good to use all day, every day, even if you live in a cloudy climate. Children and teens who use sunscreen regularly can significantly decrease their lifetime risk of basal and squamous cell skin cancer.

* Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, 15 to 30 minutes before you go in the sun and, use a sunscreen on your lips. Use water-resistant sunscreens and reapply every 2 to 3 hours — more often if you’re swimming or sweating.

* If you’re in intense sunlight, use a total sunblock, like zinc oxide, on your lips, nose and ears. Sunblock comes in sun-sticks for children.

* Even with sunscreen, protective clothing is a good idea. Recent evidence suggests that sunscreen alone may not provide adequate protection against melanoma. Some researchers theorize that because sunscreen allows you to stay in the sun longer, it may actually increase your risk of melanoma. However, the research is very controversial. In addition, sunscreen does help protect against basal cell and squamous cell cancer.

* Don’t use tanning beds or tan-accelerating agents. Tanning beds emit UVA rays, often touted as less dangerous than UVB rays. But UVA light penetrates deeper into your skin, causes precancerous actinic keratoses and increases your risk of skin cancer. As for suntan-accelerating products, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against their use. Artificial tanning agents, which essentially stain your skin, are generally safe.

* Ask your doctor about medications you take. Many drugs can increase your sensitivity to sunlight and your risk of getting a sunburn. Some common ones include thiazide and some other diuretics, tetracycline and sulfa antibiotics, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, in dosages used to treat arthritis.

* If you do develop a sunburn, take aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for pain, apply cold compresses and avoid further exposure until the burn heals. A sunburn spray may help relieve pain.

* Examine your skin regularly. If you see changes in the size, texture (rough, smooth), shape (round, irregular), or color of blemishes, or you have a sore that doesn’t heal, see your doctor immediately. Make sure your doctor examines all skin surfaces.

* Don’t assume it’s safe to stay in the sun just because you’re wearing sunblock. Sunblock alone doesn’t protect you from skin cancer. Being sun smart is best: Avoid the midday sun, wear sun-protective clothing and then wear sunscreen on exposed skin, in that order.

Herbal Remedies

Aloe Vera is the best natural pain reliever. Apply the gel directly from an Aloe vera leaf to the burn. Re-apply every hour until the pain diminishes.

White Willow Bark is the natural version of aspirin. This pain reliever can help with with inflammation.

Calendula tincture can be taken under the toungue, as well as, added to body cream and can be applied to sunburn to soothe pain and help promote tissue repair. It is an anti-inflammatory and can help to repair of damaged tissues. The cream is applied three times per day.

Gotu Kola has been used in the medicinal systems of central Asia for centuries to treat numerous skin diseases. Saponins in Gotu Kola beneficially affect collagen (the material that makes up connective tissue) to inhibit its production in hyperactive scar tissue.

Dried gotu kola leaf can be made into a tea by adding 1–2 teaspoons to boiling water and allowing it to steep for ten to fifteen minutes. Three cups are usually drunk per day.

Gotu Kola tincture can also be used at a dose of 10–20 ml three times per day. Standardized extracts containing up to 100% total triterpenoids are generally taken in the amount of 60 mg once or twice per day.

Aromatherapy Remedies

Aromatherapy can help relieve some discomfort and minimize the damage to your skin. A bath in essential oils can help draw out the pain of the sunburn and help in cooling down the skin. Lavender oil and other blends can help the dry, cracking skin. Essential oils such as Lavender, Chamomile, Peppermint and Patchouli can be very helpful.

Sunburn can happen very easily if you are not careful. Dilute one part tea tree oil with ten parts of olive oil or coconut oil and spread freely over the affected areas. This is soothing and pain-relieving and to reduce blistering and peeling. People have also applied tea tree oil full strength to sunburn.

Be aware that many citrus oils increase sensitivity when you go into the sun.

Nutritional Advice

It’s a good idea to drink a lot of water to help counteract the drying effect of a burn. Distilled water is the best. Drink at least 6-8 8 ounces of water a day. Plenty of fluids should be taken as the sun can quickly dehydrate the body.

Watermelon juice and its seeds were traditionally offered to thirsty travelers, and they are still important today. This flavorful fruit is one of the best remedies for dehydration and summer heat symptoms, which include thirst without desire to drink, band-like headache, nausea, low appetite, heavy, weighted body sensation, low motivation, sluggish digestion, increased body temperature, sticky sweat, surging pulse, and red tongue with thick white or yellow coating. Watermelon cools and cleanses the system, clearing summerheat and acts as a natural diuretic.

Diet for second and third degree burns is very important. Eat high-protein foods for tissue repair. Eat lightly but wisely. A balanced diet will help provide the nutrients your skin needs to regenerate itself.

Even common foods can trigger a bad reaction. Often, people will lighten their hair with lemon or lime juice. A potent photosensitizer, lemon and lime juice can cause dermatitis every place as the juice runs down the face and arms. This only tends to happen to those individuals who are photosensitive.

Potassium, 99 mg. per day, is lost during sunburn, must be replaced.

Protein (free form amino acids), taken as directed on the label, is needed for tissue repair.