Millions of Americans who spent the July weekend at the beach or lounging outdoors by the barbie, grilling their favorite fare, are now suffering with sunburn.
“Sunburns can actually be quite serious and if you experience a real burn with blisters, or feel dizzy or woozy, head straight to the nearest walk-in medical center or your doctor’s office,” notes Dr. Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D. and author of “The Natural Medicine Chest.”
But she tells Newsmax Health
a handful of simple, natural remedies can ease the suffering that comes from spending too much time in the sun.
“If you’ve mildly overdone fun in the sun, your can reach into your natural medicine chest with items you probably have right on your shelves for relief,” she notes.
A little sunshine helps our bodies make vitamin D, which is essential to health, according to the National Institutes of Health. But only 15 minutes of sun exposure three times weekly is needed to produce the body’s requirement of vitamin D.
“Because exposure to sunlight is a risk for skin cancer, you should use sunscreen after a few minutes in the sun,” advises the NIH.
But although we know better, nearly everyone still gets sunburned sometimes because we wait too long to apply sunscreen or sun block or we forget to reapply every two hours.
To treat a sunburn, Kamhi and other experts offer the following tips:
One of Kamhi’s favorite sunburn soothers is cooled chamomile tea. “Soak a wash cloth in the cooled tea and apply it to sunburned skin, or use a chamomile extract standardized to the known active ingredients of bisabolol and chamazulene,” she says.
Dr. Jerome Litt, a noted dermatologist and author of “Your Skin from A to Z,” tells Newsmax Health
you don’t need “fancy schmancy creams” to treat sunburns. “How do you put out a fire? With water, of course,” he says. “Soak a facecloth with lukewarm water and apply it gently to the affected area. Apply the cloth on and off for about 15 minutes. Then apply a zinc oxide ointment or paste to the area. Repeat the process every couple of hours.”
Dr. Kally Papantoniou, a cosmetic dermatologist and clinical instructor at Mount Sinai Health Center in New York, shares some of her favorite ways to treat sunburns. “You may want to take a pain reliever such as ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and reduce the pain of the sunburn,” she says. “Make sure that you stay hydrated because dehydration mixed with sunburn and possible blisters is dangerous.”
Papantoniou says that pure aloe vera from the plant or aloe vera juice can be applied to the skin several times daily to ease sunburn. Aloe is well known for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties. A recent study revealed that aloe vera could reduce the healing time of burns by about nine days.
Make an oatmeal paste by grinding oatmeal flakes in a blender or food processor and mixing with milk and honey to relieve the itching of sunburn, Papantoniou advises. While it is a little messy, it’s effective.
A mixture of one part skim or fat-free milk to four parts water and applying this formulation to the affected area can also be very soothing, Papantoniou notes. Apply compresses for 15 to 20 minutes and repeat every two to four hours.
Cooling cucumber bath.
“Take a cool bath — not a cold bath — to help with tenderness and pain,” Papantoniou says. “Cucumber slices can be applied to smaller areas to relieve swelling and irritation.” Cut the cucumber lengthwise to cover more area. Chilling the cuke slightly enhances its soothing properties.
Over-the-counter topical cortisone (1 percent) ointment may be applied once or twice a day to the burned area also to reduce the pain of sunburn. “This will relieve inflammation and soothe the skin,” Papantoniou says.
She warns that you should never apply anything on broken skin, other than an antibiotic ointment, unless instructed by a physician. And avoid scratching your skin or popping blisters as opening the skin increases the chance of infection.
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