Don’t we all love a slight tan, but haven’t we all, at some time or another, almost been burnt to a crisp trying to get it. Sunburn is, therefore, as common as common cold. However, this does not mean it should be taken lightly, as dermatologists claim it can result in first and even second degree burns.
Sunlight in itself is not harmful. It is a vital source of vitamin D, necessary for healthy skin and strong bones. In fact, hiding from the sun could leave you pale, clammy looking and probably struggling with rickets. But, too much exposure to the sun is harmful as well, as sunlight also contains the dangerous ultra violet (UV) rays, overexposure to which causes sunburn.
Our body, for its, part does have its own defence mechanism, in the form of the Melanin pigment, which protects it from these harmful UV rays. But when the exposure to these rays exceeds the ability of melanin to protect the skin, it ends up burning it.
Chances of this increase is manifold, if one is working outdoors, swimming, skiing, or hiking. Sometimes even medicines, like birth control pills and antibacterial agents used in soaps make our skin more prone to sunburn. Sun lamps and welding arcs are another common reason for sunburn.
Interestingly, there are no immediate signs and symptoms of sunburn.
However, be sure they will surface within a period of 24 hours, in the form of reddening, blisters and peeling of the skin. While these are relatively temporary; their effects are generally long lasting, causing permanent skin damage, and in extreme cases even skin cancer.
At home there are a number of things you can do to dilute the pain and discomfort of sunburn. You can try applying aloe vera or vinegar on the affected skin, as both ease inflammation and pain. Mustard oil, coconut oil and sandalwood oil, all have cooling properties, and therefore take out the heat from the skin. Adding baking powder to your bath water does the same.
Vegetables are perhaps the best at sucking out excessive body heat. For example, rubbing freshly cut cucumber slices on the affected area brings immediate coolness. Cucumber pulp together with yogurt can be applied over face regularly and washed off.
Even cucumber mixed with lime juice, in equal proportions, and applied regularly for 20 minutes also helps. Further, starch from grated potatoes is known to soothe burned skin. Two teaspoon tomato juice and four tablespoon buttermilk, applied and left on the skin for 1/2 hour is also equally effective.
Other effectual remedies include applying a thin layer of sandalwood paste on the affected area. Honey and lime juice can be mixed in the ration of 2:1 and washed off after twenty minutes. A pinch of turmeric can be added to yogurt and applied over face, neck and arms regularly for half-an-hour. And lastly, before and after showering apply coconut or neem oil on your body.
These home remedies can be complimented by eating protein rich foods like meat, egg, fish, chicken and, lots of fresh fruits. Both are a good source of antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamins C, which boost the body’s healing ability.
Most importantly, drink loads of water to keep the body hydrated and the skin moisturized. Avoid swimming, don’t scrub the burned area, and shun all oily lotions, milk creams, as these can lead to pigmentation. And lastly, switch to a natural face wash, or at best a mild soap.
Remember, while getting a sun tan maybe cool, being sunburned is literally hot. So never take the sun for granted. Avoid going outdoors during peak hours of the day. If you simply have to, then wear good quality sunglasses, a hat, and apply a good quality sunscreen with SPF 30 or above.