Treating and Preventing Sunburn
Playing in the sun is not fun if you have to deal with sunburn afterward. On long, hot summer days, we are all tempted to spend the day relaxing poolside or at the beach, and most of us have suffered the consequences of too much sun exposure. The desire for the perfect golden tan can sometimes lead to sunburns, which is very harmful for the skin. If you suffer from acne, a sunburn can further damage your skin and cause permanent scarring.
Sunburn is a delayed inflammatory reaction when the skin is exposed to excessive ultraviolet radiation. Symptoms of mild sunburn, including redness, tenderness and pain, often occur a few hours after exposure, and can last for several days. The pain, itching and peeling is the skin’s reaction to excessive UVA and UVB ray exposure. Although the skin needs time to heal, there are some remedies and treatments available to help the skin repair itself.
Get out of the sun
It may sound simple enough, but we often do not realize we are sunburned until it is too late. Since it is a delayed reaction, the full extent and severity of the burn may not appear until up to 12 hours after exposure. Stop your sun exposure by seeking shade from trees, umbrellas, hats, etc. Drink lots of water, since sunburn causes dehydration. Get some immediate relief for the pain by adding baking soda to a cool bath, and wear loose clothing that does not stick to the body.
Reduce the pain
Anti-inflammatory medicine such as Advil or Ibuprofen can help relieve the redness and pain associated with sunburn. Aloe vera is a popular treatment for sunburn thanks to its ability to moisturize and repair the skin. Apply a moisturizing cream containing Aloe vera, and if possible, apply the gel from the actual plant to the affected areas. Once the burn heals, the skin will begin to peel and may become itchy. Fight the temptation to pick and scratch, which can irritate the skin a slow the healing process. Instead, keep the skin moisturized by applying a moisturizing lotion, which can reduce itching.
The best way to deal with sunburn is to not get one. Sunburn may only seem harmless and temporary, but can have lasting effects on the skin and overall health. Serious sunburn can cause blisters, shock, lead to cancer and even death if left untreated. Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by applying sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside. Wear loose, protective clothing and avoid staying outside for too long during peak hours (10am to 4pm), when sunrays are harsh. Choose a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30, and use sun-protection products that contain zinc oxide, an inorganic ingredient that can deflect UVA rays. Try Vivoderm’s zinc cream, a natural product that can be used as a nontoxic sunscreen with 15% Zinc Oxide.
(2009 re-post) Van Le is a staff writer for the CSU Daily Titan and writing intern for Vivoderm Laboratories in Los Angeles, California. She is currently pursuing a Journalism degree at California State University, Fullerton.