How to treat sunburns

Read on to find out tips and information on how to treat sunburns.

Daily sun exposure can be great for the body. It promotes both physical and mental health. However, too much exposure to sunlight or other ultraviolet lights can cause sunburn. The skin's protective pigment, melanin, is unable to handle the excess exposure resulting in burned skin. Sunburns can be very uncomfortable and painful. Individuals with lighter colored skin are more susceptible to sunburn than individuals with a darker complexion. Unlike thermal burns, which cause immediate symptoms, sunburns are not noted until several hours later when the skin turns red and painful. The most common symptoms of sunburn are blistering, swelling, redness, headache, and skin peeling.

The best treatment for sunburn is prevention. Being cautious of too much sun can help to avoid sunburn. Putting on sunscreen before going out into the sun, especially for lighter colored individuals is best. The higher the sun protection factor, SPF, number in a sunscreen, the more protection it will provide. Sunscreens will SPF numbers higher than thirty are recommended for the maximum protection. Also, wearing protective clothing and accessories such as light colored clothing to help reflect the sunlight, sun hats, and sunglasses will help to aid in preventing sunburn.

There are several over the counter and home treatments for treating a sunburn. To help speed up healing time there are several items that can be purchased from a drugstore or health food store. Vitamin C, beta-carotene or foods high in beta-carotene, vitamin E, and flaxseed oil can all help to speed up recovery. Taking aspirin can help to provide some relief from the pain, reduce swelling and redness, and relieve headaches. However, aspirin must be taken within the first twenty-four hours after sunburn is noted. Otherwise, it will have no affect.

Common home remedies include:

-Aloe: Refrigerate the leaves of the plant, peel off the top layers, and then apply the flesh-exposed side of the leaf directly to the sunburned area. Repeat frequently or as needed. The opened leaf will contain a cooled gel and/or juice that will provide pain relief and reduce the amount of peeling. It is best to keep the burn moist. Aloe can also be purchased in an ointment form.

-Baking soda: Soak the sunburned body is a bath of lukewarm water and half a cup of baking soda. Do not towel dry, this will only cause further irritation. Air-drying is best. The baking soda will help to moisturize the skin and relieve pain and swelling.

-Cucumber: Cucumber is great relieving swelling and redness. Slice cucumber and apply directly to sunburned area and rub gently into the skin.

-Tea: Mint teas such as spearmint and peppermint teas are best. Brew several bags of tea; cool, and then apply the tea directly to the burn. It can be applied using fingertips, cotton balls, or simply sprinkled onto the skin. Using tea as a treatment option can help aid in the healing process because it contains tannin.

-Yogurt: Applying yogurt that contains active cultures can help aid in the redness and reduce pain.

-Apple cider vinegar: To help reduce blistering and peeling of the skin, keep the skin moist by applying apple cider vinegar to the sunburn with a cotton ball.

-Ice: To stop the burning sensation, apply ice directly to the sunburned area.

-Fluids: Avoid dehydration. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids to maintain body moisture.

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience dizziness, visual problems, fluid-filled blisters, or an extremely high fever. Sunburns should also be treated as a serious health problem. Millions of people experience temporary disability every year from sunburn. Many people also die each year from severe sun exposure. Sunburns can almost always be treated, but it is always best to prevent sunburn when possible.

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