I am pretty sure that you have at least once or twice in your life experienced having sunburns. Not the most comfortable situations to experience. But I’d like to share with you some natural, safe and effective home remedies that you can try out when you or your loved one has sunburns. Let’s get started!
So, let’s start it off with the question… What exactly is a sunburn?
Sunburns are caused from too much sun or sun-equivalent exposure for a prolonged period of time. This means that it is literally a burn on the skin from the UV (ultraviolet) radiation. This skin condition can be acquired during a vacation at the beach, mowing your lawn, going out fishing our just by simply being out in the sun for a while. Sunburns are most common in the summer because of the sun being hotter than usual. But it could actually be possible anytime during the year.
What are the common causes of sunburns?
Being out in the sun for 30 minutes or more can result in sunburns. Of course, this depends on the person’s skin because they may vary to where injury can start. Some of the common causes of sunburns are the following:
- Light-skinned and fair-haired individuals have a greater risk for sunburns
- UVA and UVB, refer to the different types of wavelengths in light spectrum. UVB is more damaging to our skin’s because it could contribute to skin cancer. Both these wavelengths are responsible for “photo-aging” which is the premature aging of the skin which could cause wrinkles and sunburns.
- Frequent tanning at tanning salons since both produce UVA and UVB rays
- People who travel frequently to the United States or areas that are closer to the equator or places with higher altitudes
- Prior skin damage can cause further irritation and burns
What are the symptoms associated with sunburns?
- In mild cases, skin redness and mild pain could occur
- The affected area may be red around 2-6 hours after sun exposure. Peak effects are seen at 1-2 days after
- In more severe cases, burning and skin burning may be felt
- (Severe cases) massive fluid loss may result causing dehydration, possibly infection and electrolyte imbalance
- With too much sun exposure and if left untreated, sunburns can cause shock because of poor blood circulation to the vital organs and could even be fatal
Other symptoms may include:
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blisters that may start off small and begin to peel and forming large water-filled blisters characterized to be red and painful.
- Peeling of the skin around 4 to 7 days after sun exposure
How are sunburns diagnosed?
Your healthcare professional may ask you about your medical history and prior sun exposure. They may also do a physical examination to determine if area affected is really a sunburn. They could determine if the sunburn is mild or already a severe case. Several laboratory tests may be done to determine the severity of the skin injury for more severe cases.
Natural home remedies for sunburns
- Bath time. Taking a bath right after sun exposure is a smart thing to do because water is a sunburn soothing remedy. You can add a couple tablespoons of baking soda to cool bath water to soothe the skin. Bathe for around 15 to 20 minutes only because prolonged soaking may put you at risk to drying out your skin. Don’t towel dry to prevent further skin damage, instead air dry.
- Cool compress. Get a washcloth and soak it in cool water and apply it where the affected sunburnt areas are on the body. Apply for around 10 minutes. Make sure not to directly apply ice or an ice pack because it could cause more damage. You can do this all throughout the day whenever you feel like you need a soothing fix.
- Aloe vera. Since aloe vera has components to soothe the skin and could also constrict blood vessels, it is very helpful to use on burnt skin. You can find aloe vera gels at your local grocery store or health stores. You could also buy the plant itself, slip the leaves and apply the gel to the affected areas of the skin. Do this 5 to 6x all throughout the day as needed. This an effective angular cheilitis remedy too.
- Drink H20. Being in the sun could cause dehydration because of sweating. So drink up! Replenish the liquids that you have lost and drink at least 8 glasses of water daily!
- Moisture your skin. Being out in the sun tends to cause moisture loss for your skin because the sun dries out our skin’s surface. After a cool bathe, apply a moisturizer to your skin immediately to prevent drying and further irritation. Make sure you don’t over rub your skin though. Add more soothing relief by placing your moisturizer in the refrigerator before using it.
- Cornstarch. Sunburns usually occur in areas where the skin meets your bathing suit area. Usually the areas where you forgot to put some sun screen on. To avoid chafing, you can cover the burnt areas by dusting on cornstarch. If there is already blistering, don’t apply anything!
- Peppermint tea. Since peppermint has cool and aromatic components this could be a very good way to treat a sunburn. You can mix in 2 drops of peppermint oil with a cup of lukewarm water or make a peppermint tea. Chill the mixture and gently bathe in it for 10-15 minutes.
- Vegetable fix. For painful sunburned areas, you can try rubbing a slice of cucumber or potato to it gently. These vegetables have a cooling effect and may help reduce the swelling.
- Vinegar. Since vinegar has acetic acid, it can help ease the pain from the sunburn. Also help treat the inflammation and itching. You can soak a few sheets of paper towels in white vinegar and apply them to the affected areas. You may take them off when the towels are close to being dry and repeat it as needed.
- Vinegar bath. As mentioned in vinegar sunburn remedy above, since it does contain acetic acid, you can try taking a sunburn vinegar bath. All you have to do is add 2 cups of vinegar to your bathwater before you get in it and soak in it for 10 to 15 minutes.
Best way to go: Prevention!
To prevent any form of injury or damage to your skin is always the best way to go! Here are a few tips on preventing sunburns.
- First things first. Know when the sun is at its extreme. The peak hours are from 10AM to 2PM. Stay out of the sun during those peak hours.
- Wear anything you can to protect your skin from the sun. Wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use Sunscreen and/or sunblock. Both are excellent sun protectants especially if you have to be out in the sun. Make sure you pay attention to the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and the PA++ type. PA++ is usually found after the SPF number, this is used to measure the protection factor of UVA rays. There are 3 types you can spot, PA+, PA++ and PA+++. The more “+” signs the better. To make sure you are protecting your skin while being out in the sun, purchase a sun protectant with at least PA++ or more.
- Avoid sunblocks especially for children (younger than 6 months) that contain PABA because it could cause skin irritation. But most sun blocks no longer contain this chemical. The higher the SPF number the more protection you get from the sun. What is SPF anyways? It is the degree to which sunscreen could protect a person’s skin from the direct rays of the sun. The higher the value, the greater level of protection.
- It is recommended that you use a SPF 30 sunblock that has a “broad-spectrum” (UVA and UVB) waterproof component and reapply every two hours of being out in the sun. More often when you swim, sweat or wipe yourself with a towel.
- Apply sunscreen at generous amount all throughout the time you are exposed in direct sunlight.
- Use lip balm with SPF also to protect your lips too
- Avoid going to tanning beds because it is also a cause for sunburns.
To conclude our informative discussion about sunburns, like I said in the paragraph above, prevention is always the best! But if you ultimately have no choice and have to be in the sun, then do the necessary measures to protect your skin. Natural remedies have also been a very helpful and effective way on treating sunburns.