How To Soothe Your Sunburn
You've done it again. You've fallen asleep by the pool, worked in the garden too long, or played Frisbee with the dog too long. Your body is now red as a lobster, and you're hurting. What can you do?
First, don't get down on yourself too hard. It's beautiful outside, the warmth is welcome after the winter we had, and it's time to celebrate all this beauty. Remembering that sun screen (the higher the better) is the most important part of summer.
It's happened to all of us, but no one really knows what sunburn is, why it affects us so terribly, and what to do about it. So we're going to share with you the facts about sunburn and how to fix it.
The Sun's Rays
The sun puts off dozens of types of rays: gamma rays, x-rays, infrared rays, short and long radio waves, and ultraviolet rays, to name a few. Some of the sun's rays are filtered as they pass through the ozone layer, so many don't even reach the earth.
It's one of the three types of ultraviolet waves, UVA, UVB, and UVC that cause all the trouble. UVC is one type of the sun's rays that are filtered through the ozone layer, so you won't be burned by them. UVB rays do reach the earth, but some are filtered through the ozone.
These are the rays that burn us. Every UVA ray reaches the earth, but they cause wrinkles and some skin cancers, but they won't burn you.
How Do They Cause Sunburn?
As the body is “soaking up the rays,” it produces melanin, a substance that takes the UV rays and redistributes them as heat. It's the body's version of sun screen. When it gets overwhelmed, melanin can't help anymore. The skin begin to die.
Sunburn happens when ultraviolet light, which is stronger than light we can see, destroys the DNA. The body knows when this happens. It races to send blood to the affected area in order to protect it. The skin becomes inflamed. Sometimes second degree burns can happen as well.
In lots of people, a sunburn fades into a tan. In others, though, it makes the skin peel. This is the dead skin cells alerting the body that it's time to leave the party, so the body won't send it any more protection.
Signs And Symptoms Of Sunburn
The redness, the terrible heat, and the tightness of the skin are the first things people feel when they get sunburned. Next will come a just as terrible itch added to possibly blistering and peeling. Some with sunburn damage might get chills and a fever. Signs of dehydration will also manifest.
How To Take Care Of A Sunburn
The first thing to do is get out of the sun pronto. If you're by a pool, river, lake, or other body of water, take a dip to cool the skin. Don't stay too long; you only want to cool off.
If you're at home, then run a cool bath. Don't let the shower batter at the sunburned area, because that can do more damage to already damaged skin. Into a cool bath, you can add:
>Lavender essential oil. This soothes and helps the burning and pain.
>Oatmeal. Colloidal oatmeal is not the type you eat. It's the best for an itchy sunburn.
>Baking soda. Soothes the itch and pain of a sunburn as well.
>Apple cider vinegar. One cup will help balance the pH or the alkalinity of the skin.
Note: Do not, repeat, do not use soaps or perfumed shampoos or body washes. The chemicals will further irritate the burn and pain.
>Moisturize the skin while it's still damp.
>Don't use moisturizers or medicines that are chemical or petroleum-based. They will irritate the burn even more.
>Apply an aloe-based lotion to the burn. Some stores sell bottles of straight aloe, which is a natural burn soother.
>Put apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray on the burn. It will smell awful, but will soothe the burn.
>Put witch hazel in a spray bottle and spray on the burn. It will soothe the burn as well as helping with inflammation.
>You can also use a cloth dipped in icy water or a package of frozen veggies wrapped in a cloth on the burn.
>The tannic acid in black tea has been found in studies to take the heat out of a sunburn. Make the tea, then let it cool. Apply with a cloth.
>You can also use an over the counter analgesic like Solarcaine or Lanacane.
While you're repairing the damage from the outside, remember that the damage was done on the inside. It makes sense to repair the inside, too. Taking aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen helps take the inflammation down from the inside. They also take out some of the heat from the skin.
You're adding moisture to your body in the form of lotions, aloe, tea, and various other wet treatments. Remember that drinking water keeps your skin moisturized better than all the lotion in the world. If you've drunk your fill, then remember that lots of foods carry water, too.
Eat things like tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, strawberries, watermelon, and such. Plain water can get boring, but snacking on these and other fruits and veggies with water in them will help.
We know this is going to be almost impossible, but peeling the dead skin off actually makes the problem worse. Cover blisters with bandages and don't be tempted to puncture them. Let it be, and the body will heal itself.
Of course, the best way to avoid all this pain and time lost from work is to prevent the sunburn from happening in the first place. Once skin has been burned, it takes the new layer of skin several months to toughen up. Until then, it will be raw and delicate.
To protect the new skin, wear a hat with a wide brim, sunglasses, lip balm, and cover-ups even while you sit under an umbrella.
Wear the highest level sun screen available, SPF 30 or higher. Read the ingredients. If it contains zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or avobenzone, then grab it. Don't forget to cover your face, ears, back of the neck, and hands. You'll need to keep reapplying it, especially if you swim.
Fun in the sun with family and friends is a healthy, happy way to get exercise and fresh air. Overdoing it, though, causes pain and anguish. Not just that, but it causes wrinkling and aging as well as skin cancer.
You can still have fun in the sun with friends and family. All you have to do to prevent serious consequences is to take a few precautions. Dress appropriately, wear a hat and sun shades, slather on sun screen, and you should be covered, pardon the pun. Now get out there and throw that Frisbee!