Did you accidently get too much sun? Here’s what to do when you are in the throes of a painful, itchy sunburn…
1) As soon as you get home, take a brief, warm (not hot) shower. About 5 minutes or less should feel good. Don’t use any products, especially not soap, and no scrubbing. This is a simple, soothing, warm-water-gently-gliding-down-your-skin-shower. The shower removes all sunscreen residue, etc., so your proceeding sunburn treatments can work better.
2) Take a luke-warm to cool (not cold) bath. About 10 to 30 minutes should feel good. Progressing from a warm shower to a cooler bath helps your body temperature to regulate. (You don’t want to shock your body with a sudden jolt of extremely hot or extremely cold water.) Add about ½ cup to 2 cups of any of the following to your bath if you’d like:
- Oatmeal: will work to reduce the inflammation caused by your sunburn. You can use any type of organic rolled oats or even colloidal oatmeal. Avoid instant oatmeal or flavored oatmeal.
- Baking soda: will add moisture to your parched skin and will cool your burn.
- Corn starch: may soothe the intensity of the symptoms.
- Epsom salt: acts as a soothing, mild disinfectant. You can dissolve the Epsom salt in a bowl of warm water and then add that to your bath, if your bath water is too cool to do the dissolving.
- Vinegar (such as distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, wood-aged): is believed to help balance the skin’s pH factor, its acid/alkaline balance, which ultimately supports healing.
- Chamomile tea, lavender tea, mint tea or any herbal tea: The natural tannins in herbal tea are believed to be supportive in your skin’s healing process.
When you are done with your bath, rinse off with cool water. Gently pat dry with a very soft towel. No rubbing.
3) Mist your clean, sunburned skin generously with either of the two options below ~
- Chilled vinegar (such as distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, wood aged): Vinegar is believed to have a balancing effect on your skin’s pH, which ultimately supports healing. You can mist the vinegar on straight, or dilute the vinegar with pure water (about half and half of each). The vinegar scent will completely dissipate in about an hour.
- Chilled witch hazel: Witch hazel is believed to have an anti-inflammatory effect that eases your symptoms. You can mist the witch hazel on straight, or dilute the witch hazel with pure water (about half and half of each).
(If a chilled mist feels too shocking, room temperature or slightly cool works well, too.)
4) Apply any of the following products liberally on all sunburned skin, directly following the misting step above:
- Chilled aloe vera gel: the high water content helps to re-hydrate your parched skin while it promotes oxygen exchange and increased nutrient intake, which speeds your healing process.
- Chilled plain, whole yogurt: the natural probiotics are believed to be beneficial to your skin, while the natural fat in whole yogurt is thought to have beneficial moisturizing qualities.
- Chilled calamine lotion: Calamine lotion is primarily zinc, which is naturally healing, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
(Place products in the fridge to chill before application if you’d like. The coolness will probably feel wonderful on your sunburn, as well as increase the anti-inflammatory benefits. However, if room temperature or just slightly cooled feels better to you, do that instead. Anything that is icy cold will probably feel too shocking.)
5) Over your product application, apply one of the of the following compresses* to all of your sunburned areas:
- A cool compress made with mint tea (or any herbal tea); the natural tannins in herbal tea are believed to be very healing.
- A cool compress made with whole milk; the higher fat content of whole milk is believed to have a soothing and moisturizing effect on your skin.
- A cool compress made with pure water: Just the simple coolness of a moist compress will probably give you some relief.
(*Note: one simple way to make a compress is to take any clean, soft, cotton cloth, saturate it with whole milk, herbal tea or pure water, chill it completely -or just lightly- in the fridge, then apply it to your sunburned skin.)
Chilled, moist herbal tea bags can also be applied directly to sunburned skin.
6) Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 as often as needed to keep skin continually moist, hydrated and pain and itch free.
7) Drink plenty of water. Both internal and external hydration is crucial. Sunburn symptoms will intensify and prolong if you are dehydrated.
8) Make sure you are receiving plenty of essential fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A and beta carotene through food and/or supplements. (This nourishment is vital support for skin healing.) St. John’s Wort, Echinacea and zinc are also helpful healing supplements.
9) As soon as the heat, pain and itch are relieved, immediately begin layering on any one or more of the following healing skin care products listed below. This step is crucial and needs to be started as soon as possible ~ it can help your skin to heal much more quickly as well as mitigate the intensity of the free radical damage caused by the burn:
- Aloe Vera Calming Gel: This is the perfect thing to apply under any of the other products listed below, as well as on its own. Its hydrating strength is quite powerful, and the green tea and cucumber extracts added calm your skin and fight free radical damage.
- Stonecrop Whipped Moisturizer: The stonecrop plant is a robust, succulent plant so it strongly draws moisture into your skin. Stonecrop is also soothing, calming and healing for hyperpigmentation damage. It is a powerful skin regenerator and is a potent ally against free radical damage.
- Ultra Sensitive Whipped Moisturizer: (listed at the bottom of the linked page) Protects against the abuse of the elements. Reduces inflammation, redness and irritation. Encourages calm, healthy, hydrated skin. Naturally anti-aging and anti-inflammatory. Rich in profoundly healing yarrow, plantago and grapeseed.
- Propolis Lotion: This silky lotion, made from bee propolis from the rainforests of Brazil, is overflowing with bioflavonoids, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and trace elements. It helps to boost the immunity of your skin and protect your skin from complications during healing. It will accelerate your healing process and help your skin repair itself.
(Keep your sunburned skin continually saturated with one or more of the above products, both day and night, until all signs of the burn are completely gone.)
11) Keep your sunburned skin completely covered and out of sun exposure until you are fully healed. If this is not practical (like if your face is sunburned) keep your skin thoroughly covered with zinc sun protection the entire time you are outdoors. Zinc will not only protect you from further sun damage, it will help your skin to heal as well. Here is one option…
What Else Can Bring Relief To the Discomfort a Sunburn?
- Add about 20 or so drops of Calendula, Chamomile or Lavender essential oil to a cool bath. Soak for 10 to 30 minutes.
- Grate and chill a fresh cucumber. Apply directly to your sunburned skin.
- Grate and chill a fresh potato. Apply directly to your sunburned skin.
(I’ve listed many options, as one treatment may bring more relief than another for your particular skin. And also, if you are in the midst of a painful sunburn, running to the store may not be an option, so hopefully there are enough choices here that you’ll have a few of these items already on hand.)
What Not To Put On Your Sunburn:
- Avoid SD Alcohol and Benzocaine on a sunburn. SD Alcohol will probably just intensify your skin’s dryness, and Benzocaine (although it is present in some sun burn treatment products) may irritate your skin. Benzocaine should never be applied to children under the age of two without professional medical supervision.
- Do not put Baby Oil, Vaseline (or any petroleum product), cooking oil or butter on your sunburn. These products tend to hold the heat of your sunburn in, as well as your sweat, and decrease your skin’s natural ability to excrete toxins and intake oxygen. This actually slows your skin’s healing process and possibly intensifies the symptoms that you feel.
Seek Medical Care for Your Sunburn If:
• Your sunburn is severe, covers a large portion of your body, and blisters;
• Your sunburn is accompanied by a high fever, extreme pain, nausea or a rash;
• Your sunburn doesn’t respond to at-home care within a few days.
Remember that Sunburns are Serious:
The National Institute of Health provides the below information. This is good to know:
- A sunburn results when the amount of exposure to the sun or other ultraviolet light source exceeds the ability of the body’s protective pigment, melanin, to protect the skin. (There is no such thing as a “healthy tan.” Unprotected sun exposure causes premature aging of the skin.)
- While the symptoms of a sunburn are usually temporary (such as red skin that is painful to the touch), the skin damage is often permanent and can have serious, long-term health effects, including skin cancer. By the time the skin starts to become painful and red, the damage has been done. The pain is worst between 6 and 48 hours after sun exposure.
- Sun exposure can cause first and second degree burns.
- In severe sunburns, blistering of the skin may occur. Deaths have resulted from acute sun exposure.
- Skin cancer usually appears in adulthood, but is caused by sun exposure and sunburns that began as early as childhood. You can help prevent skin cancer by protecting your skin and your children’s skin from the harmful rays of the sun.
- Infants and children are especially sensitive to the burning effects of the sun.
- The sun’s rays are strongest during the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The sun’s rays are also stronger at higher altitudes and lower latitudes (closer to the tropics). Reflection off water, as well as sand or snow, can intensify the sun’s burning rays.
- Sun lamps and tanning beds can cause severe sunburn.
- Some medications (such as the antibiotic doxycycline) can make you more susceptible to sunburn.
Prevention is the Key:
Once you’ve suffered through the misery of a sunburn, you know you never want to go through that again. (I’m also pretty sure you don’t want to give yourself early wrinkles, sagging and mottled, liver-spotted skin either, so…)
Here are a few key tips to remember:
- Apply your sun protection product liberally at least once every hour and a half and more often if your skin burns extremely easily.
- No sun protection product can block out all harmful UV rays completely. You must periodically seek shade and the indoors, as well as re-apply your sun protection product.
- Remember that you can still get a sunburn even when the sky seems cloudy.
peace and cheers~
Rich Earth Organic Skin Care Spa
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“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Rich Earth Organic Skin Care Spa understands that we are all individuals- unique and singular. There may be a tip that does not fit with your individual needs. As always, you are your own best guide. The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes, and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment.
Sources consulted in writing this blog:
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