by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac ~
The overexposure to the sun is damaging. Whether you tan or burn, your skin has already gone through a process of UV rays that cause inflammation and sometimes swelling, blistering, peeling, and pain.
Prevention and precautions are the most important in treatment. Applying sunscreen (SPF 15, at least), wear UV – protective sunglasses, and limiting your time in the sun will help avoid this problem. Stay out of the sun when it’s high in the sky; this is when the UV rays are more intense (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Choose clothing that covers your skin – hats, lightweight, long-sleeved shirts. Pure aloe vera rubbed into the skin can help to heal. Take antioxidants to help block the chemical reactions that can trigger cancer’s uncontrolled cell growth. A suntan is a warning. It tells you that your skin has been burned. Ignore repeated warnings, and you may end up with wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer. Here are some tips to protect your skin:
Limit your time in the sun. Avoid the strongest ultraviolet (UV) sunlight, which is between mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Be aware that UV light reflected from water, sand, snow and cement can be as intense as direct sunlight. Sunlight intensity increases as you get closer to the equator. It also increases about 4 percent with every 1,000-foot increase in elevation. Clouds can block brightness but may allow up to 80 percent of UV light to reach your skin. Wear protective clothing and sunglasses. Loose, long-sleeved cotton shirts and hats with at least a 4-inch brim offer good protection. Sunglasses should have at least 99 percent protection against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) sunlight. Wearing sunglasses is particularly important when you’re around water and snow, where failure to use eye protection can result in a painful burn to the outer layer of your eye (cornea) and temporary blindness.
Use sunscreen. Many moisturizing and makeup products now contain non greasy sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. They’re good to use all day, every day, even if you live in a cloudy climate. Children and teens who use sunscreen regularly can significantly decrease their lifetime risk of basal and squamous cell skin cancer.
Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, 15 to 30 minutes before you go in the sun and, use a sunscreen on your lips. Use water-resistant sunscreens and reapply every 2 to 3 hours – more often if you’re swimming or sweating.
If you’re in intense sunlight, use a total sunblock, like zinc oxide, on your lips, nose and ears. Sunblock comes in sun-sticks for children.
Even with sunscreen, protective clothing is a good idea. Recent evidence suggests that sunscreen alone may not provide adequate protection against melanoma. Some researchers theorize that because sunscreen allows you to stay in the sun longer, it may actually increase your risk of melanoma. However, the research is very controversial. In addition, sunscreen does help protect against basal cell and squamous cell cancer.
Don’t use tanning beds or tan-accelerating agents. Tanning beds emit UVA rays, often touted as less dangerous than UVB rays. But UVA light penetrates deeper into your skin, causes precancerous actinic keratoses and increases your risk of skin cancer. As for suntan-accelerating products, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against their use. Artificial tanning agents, which essentially stain your skin, are generally safe.
Ask your doctor about medications you take. Many drugs can increase your sensitivity to sunlight and your risk of getting a sunburn. Some common ones include thiazide and some other diuretics, tetracycline and sulfa antibiotics, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, in dosages used to treat arthritis.
If you do develop a sunburn, take aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for pain, apply cold compresses and avoid further exposure until the burn heals. A sunburn spray may help relieve pain.
Examine your skin regularly. If you see changes in the size, texture (rough, smooth), shape (round, irregular), or color of blemishes, or you have a sore that doesn’t heal, see your doctor immediately. Make sure your doctor examines all skin surfaces.
Don’t assume it’s safe to stay in the sun just because you’re wearing sunblock. Sunblock alone doesn’t protect you from skin cancer. Being sun smart is best: Avoid the midday sun, wear sun-protective clothing and then wear sunscreen on exposed skin, in that order.1.
Aloe Vera is the best natural pain reliever. Apply the gel directly from an Aloe vera leaf to the burn. Re-apply every hour until the pain diminishes.
White Willow Bark is the natural version of aspirin. This pain reliever can help with with inflammation.
Calendula tincture can be taken under the tongue, as well as, added to body cream and can be applied to sunburn to soothe pain and help promote tissue repair. It is an anti-inflammatory and can help to repair of damaged tissues. The cream is applied three times per day.
Gotu Kola has been used in the medicinal systems of central Asia for centuries to treat numerous skin diseases. Saponins in Gotu Kola beneficially affect collagen (the material that makes up connective tissue) to inhibit its production in hyperactive scar tissue.
Dried gotu kola leaf can be made into a tea by adding 1 – 2 teaspoons to boiling water and allowing it to steep for ten to fifteen minutes. Three cups are usually drunk per day.
Gotu Kola tincture can also be used at a dose of 10 – 20 ml three times per day. Standardized extracts containing up to 100% total triterpenoids are generally taken in the amount of 60 mg once or twice per day.
Aromatherapy can help relieve some discomfort and minimize the damage to your skin. A bath in essential oils can help draw out the pain of the sunburn and help in cooling down the skin. Lavender oil and other blends can help the dry, cracking skin. Essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, peppermint and patchouli can be very helpful.
Sunburn can happen very easily if you are not careful. Dilute one part tea tree oil with ten parts of olive oil or coconut oil and spread freely over the affected areas. This is soothing and pain-relieving and to reduce blistering and peeling. People have also applied tea tree oil full strength to sunburn.
Utilize these blends of essential oils 3 times a day, morning, afternoon and night:
It’s a good idea to drink a lot of water to help counteract the drying effect of a burn. Distilled water is the best. Drink at least 6-8 8 ounces of water a day. Plenty of fluids should be taken as the sun can quickly dehydrate the body.
Watermelon juice and its seeds were traditionally offered to thirsty travelers, and they are still important today. This flavorful fruit is one of the best remedies for dehydration and summer heat symptoms, which include thirst without desire to drink, band-like headache, nausea, low appetite, heavy, weighted body sensation, low motivation, sluggish digestion, increased body temperature, sticky sweat, surging pulse, and red tongue with thick white or yellow coating. Watermelon cools and cleanses the system, clearing summerheat and acts as a natural diuretic.
Diet for second and third degree burns is very important. Eat high-protein foods for tissue repair. Eat lightly but wisely. A balanced diet will help provide the nutrients your skin needs to regenerate itself.
Even common foods can trigger a bad reaction. Often, people will lighten their hair with lemon or lime juice. A potent photosensitizer, lemon and lime juice can cause dermatitis every place as the juice runs down the face and arms. This only tends to happen to those individuals who are photosensitive.
Potassium, 99 mg. per day, is lost during sunburn, must be replaced.
Protein (free form amino acids), taken as directed on the label, is needed for tissue repair.
Vitamin A capsules, 50,000 IU per day until healed.
Vitamin E capsules, 100 IU per day (may increase slowly to 1,600 IU for third-degree burns), aids in healing of scar tissue and aids in tissue repair.
Vitamin C plus bioflavonoids, 10,000 mg. per day, is needed for tissue repair and healing but also reduces scarring. Aloe vera gel, apply 3 or 4 times per day, is good on burn after healing starts, reduces pain and scarring.
Calcium, 2,000 mg. per day, is necessary for pH balance and potassium utilization and reduces stress on tissues.
Magnesium, 1,000 mg.
Silicon, taken as directed on the label, helps repair connective tissue.
Unsaturated fatty acids, taken as directed on the label, is needed for tissue healing.
Vitamin B complex/PABA, 100 mg. per day, is important for serious burns, PABA is good for protecting the skin.
Vitamin E ointment, use ointment on burn after healing starts or open a capsule and apply, helps prevent scarring.
Zinc , 100 mg. per day for a month, then reduce to 50 mg. per day, is used for tissue healing.
The mysterious and amazing healing power of water has been utilized for centuries. Water cleanses, refreshes and restores all life. We are always drawn to water. Be it a soothing fountain or majestic waterfall. Water is a carrier. It flows. It moves along the line of least resistance to find its way to the ocean where comes and goes in the ebb and flow of tides and waves. The appeal is inexplicable! We crave water, maybe because our bodies are made up of a large percent of it. Maybe beacuse we instinctively know how it can heal us.
Hydrotherapy is the use of water in any form, in the treatment of dis-ease. Hydrotherapy has a number of uses.
Take a cool bath. Fill the bath tub with cool water. Soak for 15-20 minutes. Afterward, gently pat your skin dry with a clean towel. Do not rub your skin or you’ll irritate it further.
The following substances can reduce pain, itching, and inflammation:
*Mix 1 cup of white vinegar into a tub of cool water.
*Generously sprinkle baking soda into cool bath water.
*Sprinkle one cup of oatmeal (pulverized) into cool water.
Compresses are wonderful to relieve the sting of sunburn. Try any one of these varieties:
*Milk protein is very soothing. Mix 1 cup skim milk with 4 cups water, then add a few ice cubes. Apply compresses for 15 to 20 minutes; repeat every 2 to 4 hours.
*Oatmeal water is soothing to the skin. Wrap dry oatmeal in cheesecloth or gauze. Run cool water through it. Discard the oatmeal and soak compresses in the liquid. Apply every 2 to 4 hours.
*Moisten a cloth with Witch Hazel. Apply often for temporary relief. For smaller areas, dip cotton balls into the liquid and gently press it on the burn.
*Cornstarch compress. Add enough water to cornstarch to make a paste. Apply directly to the sunburn.
Consider the moisturizing effects of pearl cream creating soothing relief to skin. Rich in glycerin and Vitamin E (Safe for all skin type).
If sunstroke occurs, effective therapy may save the patient’s life. Without delay, the nude patient should be placed in a bathtub filled with ice water. This WILL NOT cause pain, shock, or cutaneous vasoconstriction. The patient’s temperature will need to be monitored carefully.
Remove from bath when temperature falls to 103 F. or 39.4 C. If ice water and a bathtub are not available, place wet sheets on the nude body, fan vigorously, and massage the skin. The use of sedatives may be required to control convulsions. Careful observation of the patient for signs of fluid imbalance and renal failure will be required for several days.
If first or second degree burns, apply cold water compresses immediately.
This medical system uses infinitesimal doses of natural substances to stimulate a person’s immune system and body’s natural defenses. Homeopathic remedies are named for the plant or animal ingredients they are made from. Homeopathy not only offers relief from temporary disorders but, can provide long term healing of a person due to its individual and “wholistic” approach. This often leads to a complete recovery from the dis-ease, as well as, providing an improved understanding of the patient’s situation. This type of healing makes it easier and possible to avoid recurrence or relapses in the future and homeopathy stimulates the body’s natural defense system by reestablishing normal immune system and cell functioning.
Arnica This is a valuable first-aid remedy to help reduce pain and swelling and prevent the onset of shock after any injury. Another remedy that is more specific to the burn should be considered after Arnica.
Cantharis This remedy is indicated for extreme burning pain, when the person is very intense and restless. It is often useful in reducing or preventing blister formation. Cantharis can help with any burn, but is most often indicated for severe ones (second or third degree).
Hypericum This remedy is often helpful when the pain of a burn is intense and the nerves are extremely sensitive. Along with the usual discomfort of a burn, stabbing or shooting pains may be felt in the injured area.
Managing Your Sunburn
Are You Photosensitive? Certain drugs, soaps, or cosmetics increase your sensitivity to the sun and lead to a burn-like dermatitis. If you are not sure, check with your doctor.
Antibiotics, tranquilizers, and antifungal medications can cause reactions, as can oral contraceptives, diuretics, drugs for diabetes, and even PABA-containing sunscreens. Always ask your doctor about potential side effects of any oral drugs you may be taking.
The best way to cool down an acute flare-up is with ice. It will help reduce swelling. For best results, put an ice pack on the site of the pain 15 or 20 minutes. Do this for a day or two.
Moisturize your skin. Soaks and compresses feel good and give temporary relief, but they can make your skin feel drier than before if you don’t apply moisturizer immediately afterward. Pat yourself dry, then smooth on some bath oil. Consider moisturizing pearl cream or body lotion. Let it soak in for a minute, then re-apply. For added relief, try chilling your moisturizer before applying it.
Give yourself time. Time is the best healer. The way we train our thoughts also has extreme control over our pain.
Again, the following tips are very important:
*Apply a sunscreen about 30 minutes before going out, even if it’s overcast. (Harmful rays can penetrate cloud cover.) Don’t forget to protect your lips, hands, ears, and the back of your neck. Reapply as necessary after swimming or perspiring heavily.
*Take extra care between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when the sun is at its hottest.
*If you insist upon getting a tan, do so very gradually. Start with 15 minutes’ exposure and increase it only a few minutes at a time.
*Wear protective clothing when not swimming or sunbathing. Hats, tightly woven fabrics, and long sleeves help keep the sun off your skin.