Summer is officially here, which means one thing to me — sunburn! Now, I recently wrote about preventing sunburn here, but sometimes we get caught unawares and still turn into lobsters! If you get caught in the sun without sunscreen, fear no more — I’ve got some remedies to treat your sunburn below.
First things first, what exactly is a sunburn?
Sunburn occurs when your skin is exposed to too much UV sun rays. UVA and UVB rays are both responsible for sun damage to the skin, but UVA rays are the real culprit in those sore, red sunburns. When your skin is exposed to the sun for extended periods of time, the epidermal layer (the top layers of skin) becomes hot, red, swollen, tender and sensitive to the touch. In extreme cases, this can also lead to itchiness and peeling of the skin. Although some people don’t experience sunburns as intensely as others(generally us lighter-skinned folks have a greater chance of being affected), sunburn is still a serious issue and can lead to permanent damage, sun spots and skin cancer. So, how do we treat sunburn?
Aloe Vera, Aloe Vera, Aloe Vera
There’s a reason experts use it in after-sun balms and lotions. Aloe vera has been used as a treatment for burns since the days of the Ancient Egyptians, and during the first century A.D., the Greek physician Dioscorides advocated for its use on burns. Dermatologists today still recommend this plant as it soothes the burn and also aids the skin in healing. It can even prevent peeling! Aloe vera gel can be bought at most pharmacies and is also found in most sunburn gels and creams, so get to it!
Water is your friend
If you even think that you might have been in the sun too long, drink lots of water. Sunburn can dehydrate your body and skin, so get hydrating! In addition to drinking lots of water, you can also wrap ice in a damp cloth and soothe your skin by placing the cloth directly on the sunburnt area. This will help draw the heat from your skin and take away some of the redness and discomfort. While your skin is still sensitive, take cool showers rather than hot showers to prevent further damage and irritation. Just remember to NEVER put ice directly on your skin!
Eat to heal
Eating fruits and veggies with lots of Vitamin C will help with collagen production and help speed up the healing process. Water-rich fruits and veggies will also help rehydrate your body and skin, so think grapefruit, lemons and oranges to get your dose of Vitamin C and hydration. Protein-packed foods will also assist in skin regeneration, so load up on fatty fish and lean meats like chicken.
What else can I do?
If you see blisters, call your doctor immediately. Blisters can indicate a second-degree burn, and can lead to infection and scarring. Also, take extra special care not to use fragranced or scented lotions or creams. Some sunburn creams and gel come with “soothing” menthol, but this can cause further irritation and inflammation. Stick to unscented lotions and soaps for a while. Take care to stay away from thick balms, creams and body butters. While the thick layer might initially feel good on your skin, this traps in the heat from your sunburn and can increase the damage.
I hope you don’t get sunburnt this summer, but if you do, remember these tips and tricks! If you think I’ve forgotten anything, please let me know in the comments below!