Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall and Winter Sunburn Pain Relief

How many of you have had that really bad fall or winter sunburn?  I bet lots!

Now that it is fall, and the sun is moving south, those of us in the North American continent are feeling a real cool down.  We all start thinking of the chilly days that are fast approaching and feel a need to soak in the sun, quick and in a hurry, before we pull out the heavy coats. 

Don't screw up and let your guard down.  The sun is still ready to do a number on you.  After staying on top of the sunscreen all summer long, don't relax to the point of having blistered skin.  Remember, even the cool cloudy days at the beach can burn. 


The worst burn I ever had was after spending a sunny day on a snow covered mountain.  The fact that I spent most of it sitting on my butt in the icy snow didn't help at all.  (But that is another story.)  Anyplace that isn't covered with clothing or eye wear should be covered with sunscreen. 

BUT - if you happen to slip up and get that burn, here's some suggestions from Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi for a bit of relief.

1.  Hydrate immediately.  The skin is the body's largest organ.  The body can lose a lot of water through sunburned skin causing fatigue, headache and nausea.  Drink enough water to rehydrate and allow the body to heal.

2. Take a cool bath or use cool water compresses.  Sunburned skin is hot and painful and the best overall treatment is to cool it.  If possible, add a quart of milk to the bath to coat the skin with a protective layer of protein; don't rinse.  Otherwise, drape towels soaked in cold water over the areas.

3.  Take an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen to reduce pain.

4.  Apply natural skin soothing gels and oils like aloe vera and tamanu oil.  Pure aloe vera gel (snip the plant and apply the thick get right on the skin) cools on contact, soothes and reduces inflammation.  Lesser-known tamanu oil is from a tropical nut and has anti-inflammatory properties and promotes the healing of new skin underneath the sunburn.

5.  If blisters form, hands off.  The top of the blister is nature's bandage that reduces the risk of
infection so leave them alone. 

6.  Seek medical attention immediately if the majority of the skin's surface is severely burned and starting to blister.  Sun "poisoning" is a serious medical condition that requires rehydration and the advice of a medical professional. 

So - get yourself a big hat, some good eyewear and a bit of SPF 30 sunscreen and enjoy the cooler weather.  If you fail at avoiding the burn, follow the advice of Dr. Tanzi.

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