Sunburn is actually the acute inflammation of skin cells, caused by the ultraviolet rays of the sun. A first-degree sunburn is when the skin turns pink or red; a second-degree sunburn is where the skin actually blisters, painful!
Hats, long sleeves, sunglasses and shade are undoubtedly the safest and surest way to prevent sunburn. I lived on a yacht back in the 80’s cruising The Whitsundays and never got sunburnt. A slowly developed tan also helped.
Forget bought vitamin D. A little sun really is the way to go.
Lots of stuff that you wouldn’t eat comes in those tubes and pumps. Your liver then has the job of breaking them down. Personally I prefer my liver to work well so I can function as a non-crazed menopausal woman with normal blood pressure and no migraines, with occasional extra help for alcoholic beverages. So I limit the sunscreen where I can.
Your skin is clever…
Slowly sun exposed skin increases its production of melanin – the dark pigment in the top layer of your skin. This, along with genetics, determines how tanned you can get. Upping the production of melanin is the body’s way of protecting the deeper layers of the skin.
The tan acts as a shield against UV light. Now be honest or am I the only one who feels better with a little tan?
But things can go wrong…
And the camping trip to Wilson’s Prom has the kids miserable because they didn’t listen to Mum and they wore a singlet top on that 3 hour hike…
Some helpful remedies…
Aloe Vera Gel or Cream. One of the best and quickest remedies for mild sunburn, this African plant can soothe and calm burns. Aloe Vera also helps to heal wounds and prevent scarring.
Eat More Sunflower Seeds. Increased intake of Vitamin E foods can help decrease the discomfort of a sunburn. Sunflower seeds, as well as many other seeds and most raw nuts, are full of Vitamin E.
Soak a wet towel in water containing several drops of essential oils that reduce burns: lavender (also good for insect bites), sandalwood, chamomile.
The polysaccharides in an oatmeal bath (stuffed in a sock for squishing) will coat and heal your skin, while the tepid bath water cools you down and keeps your skin hydrated and moist. (Cold water will seal off pores and your body will want to trap heat- not so good). The burn is hot enough that tepid water will still soothe it.The bath water will get cloudy, as you keep squishing out the slippery goodness.
Witch hazel contains “tannins” which, when applied directly to the skin, can help reduce swelling, repair damaged skin and ward off nasty bacteria.
Homeopathics can have benefits both externally and internally. Apply the remedy as soon as possible after the burn occurs and reapply as needed over the next few days. A spray bottle is a helpful way to apply diluted tinctures.
Calendula tincture- helps prevent infection and blisters.
Hypericum tincture- relieves pain on sunburn and unbroken blisters.
Urtica Urens- for more severe sunburn, also good for insect bites.
Calendula cream soothes sunburn and promote new skin growth when blisters have broken.
If your legs are burned and your feet are swollen, elevate your legs above heart level to help stop the swelling. Help your lymph help you.
And saving the best ’til last
The pain reliever you haven’t heard about…
Hold a hand on the sunburnt area and simultaneously rub your upper neck area at C3 (third vertebrae down from your head) on one side and then the other. One side will relieve the pain. Continue rubbing until the pain in the burn disappears. Then move your hand to the next red spot and repeat.
Ah, that’s better. And being pain free enables you to sleep better which helps you recuperate better and you can be up bright and early to do it all again. Just be clothing and shade smarter!
Here’s to having a wonderful Summer!
Trudi Hemetsberger B.Ed., Dip. Neuro Training, Kinesiology