Sunburn? Home Remedies to Relieve Sunburn

by on March 4th, 2014
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Summer at the beach is a great way to spend time with friends and family but it can also mean sunburns if you do not protect yourself with SPF sun lotion.

Daily sun exposure can be great for the body. It promotes both physical and mental health. However, too much exposure to sunlight or other ultraviolet lights can cause sunburn. The skin’s protective pigment, melanin, is unable to handle the excess exposure resulting in burned skin. Sunburns can be very uncomfortable and painful. Individuals with lighter colored skin are more susceptible to sunburn than individuals with a darker complexion. Unlike thermal burns, which cause immediate symptoms, sunburns are not noted until several hours later when the skin turns red and painful. The most common symptoms of sunburn are blistering, swelling, redness, headache, and skin peeling.

The best treatment for sunburn is prevention. Being cautious of too much sun can help to avoid sunburn. Putting on sunscreen before going out into the sun, especially for lighter colored individuals is best. The higher the sun protection factor, SPF, number in a sunscreen, the more protection it will provide. Sunscreens will SPF numbers higher than thirty are recommended for the maximum protection. Also, wearing protective clothing and accessories such as light colored clothing to help reflect the sunlight, sun hats, and sunglasses will help to aid in preventing sunburn.

There are several ways to avoid and prevent sunburns yet if you are unfortunate enough to receive sunburn, there are ways to relieve sunburn.

There are several over the counter and home treatments for treating a sunburn. To help speed up healing time there are several items that can be purchased from a drugstore or health food store. Vitamin C, beta-carotene or foods high in beta-carotene, vitamin E, and flaxseed oil can all help to speed up recovery. Taking aspirin can help to provide some relief from the pain, reduce swelling and redness, and relieve headaches. However, aspirin must be taken within the first twenty-four hours after sunburn is noted. Otherwise, it will have no effect.

Sunburn is a hazard that can occur even on overcast days, and even if you apply sunscreen conscientiously. If you end up with a burn, despite taking precautions, the following will help keep you more comfortable and speed the healing process:

Apply a topical pain relieving spray or a lotion that contains Lidocaine, to lessen discomfort. Do not use the spray near eyes. Apply calamine lotion to help avoid itch that often accompanies sunburn and peeling.

COMMON HOUSEHOLD REMEDIES:

Aloe: Aloe Vera is frequently recommended for the treatment of burns, including sunburn. The sticky, jelly-like substance found in the leaf of the plant contains naturally occurring analgesics, and is the most soothing form to use. Refrigerate the leaves of the plant, peel off the top layers, and then apply the flesh-exposed side of the leaf directly to the sunburned area. Repeat frequently or as needed. The opened leaf will contain a cooled gel and/or juice that will provide pain relief and reduce the amount of peeling. It is best to keep the burn moist. Aloe can also be purchased in an ointment form.

If you purchase an Aloe Vera preparation, make sure it has a high concentration of aloe. Aloe Vera should be listed first or at least near the top of the list of ingredients. A product containing more water than aloe will not be very helpful. Also, be sure to check the expiration date, as aloe can lose some of its healing properties over time.

Baking soda: Soak the sunburned body is a bath of lukewarm water and half a cup of baking soda. Do not towel dry, this will only cause further irritation. Air-drying is best. The baking soda will help to moisturize the skin and relieve pain and swelling.

Cucumber: Cucumber is great relieving swelling and redness. Slice cucumber and apply directly to sunburned area and rub gently into the skin.

Tea: Mint teas such as spearmint and peppermint teas are best. Brew several bags of tea; cool, and then apply the tea directly to the burn. It can be applied using fingertips, cotton balls, or simply sprinkled onto the skin. Using tea as a treatment option can help aid in the healing process because it contains tannin.

Yogurt: Applying yogurt that contains active cultures can help aid in the redness and reduce pain.

Apple cider vinegar: To help reduce blistering and peeling of the skin, keep the skin moist by applying apple cider vinegar to the sunburn with a cotton ball.

Ice: To stop the burning sensation, apply ice directly to the sunburned area.

Fluids: Avoid dehydration. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids to maintain body moisture.

Milk: Apply a milk and bread compress. Soak slices of white bread in cold milk and apply to the affected area. The cold milk will draw heat from the area to cool the skin. Whole milk is best, as the fat in the milk is said to lubricate the skin and help it retain moisture.

Vinegar: Add vinegar to a cool bath, or sponge the affected area with a mixture of one part vinegar, one part water. Vinegar will cool the skin and may help prevent infection.

Green Tea: Green tea has antioxidant properties, which are believed to combat disease. Green tea also works as an anti-inflammatory and helps prevent infection. Add green tea to the bath or drink at least three cups. The cooled tea bags can be placed over closed eyes.

Cool Bath: Take a cool bath or shower to lower skin temperature and reduce discomfort. Lukewarm to cool water is best. If the water is very cold it can lower your body temperature too quickly and cause chills and shivering. Also, a bath may be more suitable than being pelted by water from the shower head, depending on how tender the affected area is. When showering or bathing, simply rinse with water, but do not use soap. Soap will remove essential body oils that can aid in healing. Pat dry gently with a soft towel and dress in loose comfortable clothing.

Cool Bath: Take a cool bath or shower to lower skin temperature and reduce discomfort. Lukewarm to cool water is best. If the water is very cold it can lower your body temperature too quickly and cause chills and shivering. Also, a bath may be more suitable than being pelted by water from the shower head, depending on how tender the affected area is. When showering or bathing, simply rinse with water, but do not use soap. Soap will remove essential body oils that can aid in healing. Pat dry gently with a soft towel and dress in loose comfortable clothing.

DO NOT:

Never use butter or petroleum based salves. Greasy products actually tend to keep heat in and can cause infection.

Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic and will make dehydrate you.

Never pop open blisters, as doing so can cause infection. Apply your preferred preparation to the area, and cover lightly with gauze to keep clean.

Do not go back outside to tan. Stay out of the sun while healing from sunburn, to avoid creating further and possibly serious damage.

You may take over the counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory preparations to help ease pain, but these products should be avoided if the burn is so severe that it is accompanied by nausea or dizziness.

WHEN TO SEE THE DOCTOR

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience dizziness, visual problems, fluid-filled blisters, or an extremely high fever. Sunburns should also be treated as a serious health problem. Millions of people experience temporary disability every year from sunburn. Many people also die each year from severe sun exposure. Sunburns can almost always be treated, but it is always best to prevent sunburn when possible.


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