Burn Baby Burn!
Summer is finally upon us, but for some, that means the beginning of the daily battle with the dreaded fire in the sky. While everyone should be sun-conscious year round, the sun is much stronger during the summer months, making us more susceptible to its harmful effects. People with paler skin know the woes of the sun much more than those with darker pigment, because they lack the protection of melanin. But do you know what actually happens when you get a sunburn? Read on to find out what’s happening when you fry, what it means for your skin, and some unlikely cures to these painful burns.
What Is A Sunburn?
When skin is exposed to UVB radiation it produces an altered RNA, the molecule responsible for regulating genes. This distorted RNA prompts surrounding cells to have an inflammatory response, which causes the appearance we’ve come to know as a sunburn.
Just one sunburn can be detrimental to your health. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, just one severe sunburn before adolescence can double the risk of melanoma.
Everyone knows the look of a sunburn; red skin that’s hot to the touch, often accompanied by symptoms of fatigue and dizziness. Severe sunburns will result in painful blisters on the skin, but even mild sunburns can be quite painful. As the sunburn progresses, itchiness and peeling will become dominant symptoms.
You can get a sunburn in just 15 minutes of sun exposure, or even less when directly exposed to other sources of strong UV light. The effects can show up as little as one hour after the burn occurs, usually peaking 12 to 48 hours after exposure. If the burn is severe enough, moderate to heavy peeling can occur for several days.
With the overwhelming evidence that sun exposure causes skin cancer, it’s extremely important to protect yourself. While a sunburn is an immediate negative effect of skin damage, the long-term effects often slip our minds. Aside from increasing your risk of cancer, sun exposure can also prematurely age our skin. Free radicals from the sun deplete collagen and elastin supplies in our skin, causing wrinkles and sagging. The sun can also cause hyperpigmentation, brown spots, and age spots. So for the sake of health and beauty, cover up!
Preventing A Burn
Sunscreen.You can read all about sunscreen and SPF here, so we’ll just say this: wear your sunscreen. It’s vital to protecting your skin! If you’re worried you’re not going to get that sun-kissed glow, don’t worry, you can still get a nice tan while wearing sunscreen. While a mild sunburn will eventually turn into a tan, it’s also incredibly harmful to your skin. So whether in a lotion or a spray, apply your sunscreen before and during sun exposure to ensure you’re safe and protected.
Cover Up.We’re not saying you have to wear your snowsuit to the beach, but covering up is one of the best ways to avoid a sunburn as it is a physical barrier between your skin and harmful UV rays. Invest in some specialty UV clothing that is thin, light, and perfect for summer days. These items block the suns rays while letting your skin breathe, so you’re comfortable in the heat. Clothing like this is perfect for children because it gives them the freedom to run around in the sun while fully protected. Hats are also a great way to keep the sun off your face and out of your eyes. Yes, the sun can damage your eyes as well as your skin. So avoid negative conditions down the road like cataracts, and put your shades on.
Diet.Did you know that altering your diet can actually help prevent sunburns? Long-term studies have shown that ingesting Vitamins C, E, and A can actually help protect your skin from sun damage. This is because these vitamins are antioxidants, which stabilize free radicals. This doesn’t mean that eating a lot of oranges will work the same as putting on sunscreen, but eating a healthy diet of vitamin-rich foods will help boost your skins overall health and decrease sun susceptibility. Also, because the sun increases our metabolic demands, it’s necessary to drink a lot of water and replenish our nutrients while out in the sun to avoid health risks such as sun-stroke.
Treating A Burn
Tea Bags.Next time you find yourself red from the sun, turn your afternoon tea into a skin treatment to soothe the ache. Black teas, such as Earl Grey, works best due to the antioxidants and tannic acid they contain. Add a few tea bags to a large pitcher, fill with hot water, and steep until it cools. Remove the tea bags, and using a cloth dipped in the tea, dab it onto your skin. Let the tea seep into your skin and provide relief. Making a tea bath is also effective, but be careful, it may stain your tub.
Oats.Oatmeal is anti-inflammatory and can help alleviate pain and promote the healing process. Make up a batch of plain oatmeal, let it cool, and apply it like a mask to your skin.
Honey.Cold honey, when applied to a burn, can help soothe and heal the skin. Honey has anti-inflammatory properties to reduce pain and better appearance, and studies have shown it helps skin cells regenerate to promote quick healing.
Aloe Vera.Aloe vera is a gel-filled plant that is incredibly soothing to sunburns. The gel is anti-inflammatory and packed with antioxidants, and gel fresh from the plant is a sure-fire way to relieve that painful burn. However, aloe doesn’t speed up the healing process, so while it will bring you comfort, your burn won’t disappear faster.
Apple Cider Vinegar.Taking an apple cider vinegar bath will help bring you relief and may speed up healing. Vinegar is antiseptic and feels cool on the skin as it evaporates.
Hopefully you won’t need to use any of these, but if you do get a burn, home remedies can really help. Prevention is a much better tactic however, so wear your sunscreen and cover up. If you’re already experiencing negative effects of sun damage, we can help. Treatments like IPL can help eliminate hyperpigmentation problems, and injectables such as Botox and dermal fillers can help erase wrinkles and sagging skin. Remember, it’s never too late to get healthy, beautiful skin!