How to Prevent, and Treat, Sunburn
Sun exposure is really good for you – but you need to be able to measure it so it doesn’t do any harm.
Excessive sun exposure provides no benefit and can only result in damage like sunburn, which is an inflammatory response in your skin to UVB overexposure. However, UVB exposure is precisely what you want, in appropriate amounts, because when UVB strikes the surface of your skin, your skin converts a cholesterol derivative into vitamin D3.
The amount of antioxidants you get from your diet actually plays a major role in how you effectively avoid sunburn. The more antioxidants you have in your skin, the lower your risk of getting burned. They act as an internal type of sunscreen and allow you to maximize your sun exposure while minimizing the risks. Carotenoids, for instance, are critical to the photosynthetic process and protect a plant or organism from damage by light and oxygen.
Besides aloe vera, there are plenty of other topical food-based remedies that can help ease the pain and speed healing. For example, you can use:
Potatoes – Potatoes have starch-based compounds that may help soothe sunburn. Chop an uncooked potato into slices, and rub or pat down a piece on your sore sunburned spots. You can also try grating a cold raw potato and applying it as a poultice. Honey – The ancient Egyptians were known to use honey as a topical salve for skin burns. Just make sure you’re using high-quality honey, such as raw organic honey, or Manuka honey, which has very potent medicinal qualities. The “Grade A” type honey you find in most grocery stores is more akin to high fructose corn syrup, which is more likely to increase infection, and should never be used to treat topical wounds. Vinegar – The acetic acid found in vinegar is said to reduce pain, itching, and inflammation. Add a cup of apple cider vinegar into your bath water and soak your burned skin into it. It can also work like a natural aspirin. Simply dab a bit of white vinegar on to your sunburn for 20 minutes of instant pain relief. Green tea – Green tea’s catechin and tannic acid help soothe sunburn pain. Soak a couple of tea bags in cool water. You can either use the tea bags themselves as a cold compress on the burnt areas, or wash your face gently with the cold tea extract. Studies also suggest that drinking just two cups of green tea a day can provide additional sun-protective benefits. Cucumbers – With cucumber’s cooling effect, simply putting it on top of your sunburns is guaranteed to provide instant soothing effects. You can also use it as a paste by mashing it and applying it on your skin. Lettuce – To take advantage of lettuce’s painkilling benefits, boil its leaves in water. After straining, allow the liquid to cool. Keep it chilled inside the refrigerator. Using clean organic cotton balls, carefully apply the lettuce juice over the affected area. Calendula – It has natural anti-inflammatory and healing properties that are especially beneficial for burns. Although there are many calendula creams sold in drugstores today, you can make your own calendula poultice using fresh calendula blossoms for faster healing of your sunburns. Coriander oil – For a soothing effect, use it as an essential oil by lightly rubbing it onto your sunburn.
- While it’s true that excessive sun exposure resulting in sunburn may increase your risk of skin cancer, it’s a fallacy to believe that sun exposure should be avoided altogether
- When UVB strikes the surface of your skin, your skin converts a cholesterol derivative into vitamin D3, which is critical for overall health and disease prevention
- As a general rule of thumb, to optimize your vitamin D levels, you need to expose large portions of your skin to the sun – including your legs, back, arms, and chest, but avoid your face to reduce photoaging wrinkling
- The key is knowing when to cover back up. You only want your skin to turn the lightest shade of pink. Once that occurs—which can happen in as little as 10-20 minutes—cover up or get out of the sun
- One of the most effective first-aid strategies I know of is to apply raw aloe vera onto the burn. It’s loaded with powerful glyconutrients that accelerate healing. Several other natural first-aid treatments are also reviewed
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photo credit: Google Images