What is a Sunburn?
Sunburn is a condition in which skin, when exposed excessively to the sun, gets burnt. Burn is generally produced by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation of the sun. It is a painful and irritating condition which can take even months to heal, depending upon its severity. In general, sunburn causes redness of the skin. The skin also feels hot to touch in most of the cases. Other symptoms can include general fatigue and mild dizziness. Excessive exposure of skin to UV radiation can be life-threatening, ultimately leading to skin cancer. On the other hand, when skin is exposed to sun within normal limits, it produces a suntan. Moderate sun tanning without burning can also prevent subsequent sunburn, as it increases the amount of melanin in the skin. In most of the cases, signs ans symptoms of sunburn are not immediate, and can take quite a while to surface. Sunburn should not be taken lightly as it can eventually lead to cancerous state of the skin. People who have fair color (less melanin) are at greater risk of developing a sunburn.

Causes and Symptoms of Sunburn

Causes of Sunburn

Over-exposure to UV Rays of Sun :

One of the very obvious causes for sunburn is over-exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. The skin is more exposed to sun while working outdoors, swimming, skiing, hiking, etc. It is referred to as over-exposure as it exceeds the body's ability to withstand the UV rays, which means the protective pigment (melanin) loses its ability to protect the skin due to over-exposure to sun.

Over-exposure to Other UV Rays' Sources :

Other sources of UV rays can be welding arcs, tanning lamps, etc. Over-exposure to UV rays from these sources can also lead to sunburn. The condition should not be taken lightly in any case.

Other Causes :

Some regular lifestyle practices can put you at high risk of sunburn. Factors like consumption of birth control pills and antibacterial agents used in soaps can the skin more prone to sunburn. In addition to this, antibiotics like doxycycline can also render a person more vulnerable to sunburn.

Over-exposure to UV Rays of Sun :

One of the very obvious causes for sunburn is over-exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. The skin is more exposed to sun while working outdoors, swimming, skiing, hiking, etc. It is referred to as over-exposure as it exceeds the body's ability to withstand the UV rays, which means the protective pigment (melanin) loses its ability to protect the skin due to over-exposure to sun.

Symptoms of Sunburn

Red and Tender Skin :

Symptoms of sunburn may not surface immediately; however, one can notice slight tenderness and redness of the skin. This could also be accompanied by sunburn blisters and sunburn peeling.

Warm Skin :

Generally, sunburnt skin is warm to touch. One can easily feel the difference between temperature of skin at other (non-exposed) areas.

Blistering and Peeling of Skin :

Sunburnt skin can experience blistering and peeling as the condition deteriorates. The blisters should not be touched or pressed and the peel should be allowed to shed on its own.

Other Symptoms :

Other symptoms of sunburn can include fevers, chills, nausea, rash, vomiting, and even flu. In same cases, affected person can experience palpitations and eye pain accompanied by sensitivity to light. Increased thirst is also one of the symptoms of sunburn.

Home Remedies for Sunburn

Baking Soda Bath :

Add a few tablespoonfuls of baking soda to cool bathing water and have a 15-20 minute bath with it. It is an excellent remedy to sooth sunburns. Do not exceed soaking time beyond 20 minutes as it can dry your skin badly. Try not to towel off yourself after the bath; instead, let yourself air-dry. Do not wipe off the baking soda. Regular bathing in water with baking soda will give a cool and irritation-free feeling. It will subside that scratchy, warm, annoying feeling.

Oatmeal Bath :

Oatmeal added to cool bath water can offers great relief from burning, irritating sunburn. Just fill the bathtub with slightly cold water and scoop a cup of oatmeal into it. Mix the water well to dissolve oatmeal completely. The resultant mixture acts as a perfect skin soother. Alternatively, one can add in Aveeno (oatmeal powder available at pharmacy) into the bath water. Again, do not wipe off your body; instead, let it air-dry.

Aloe Vera Gel :

Apply aloe vera gel directly on the affected area. Prefer the natural form instead of the pharmacy version. The natural plant gel can take out the stinging and irritating feeling of sunburn. Aloe vera actually causes the blood vessels to constrict and provides soothing effect. You can get the healing plant at your local nursery or a nearby floral department. Just slit open one of the broad leaves and apply the gel directly to the burn. Regular application (5 to 6 times a day) will be able to help a great deal.

Cool Compresses :

Soak a washcloth in cool water and apply it directly to the burnt areas. Make sure you do not apply ice pack or ice directly to the sunburnt area as it can worsen the situation. Apply cool washcloth on the affected area multiple times a day, for at least 20-30 minutes in one session. Soothing agents like baking soda and oatmeal can also be added to the cool water. It is a great home remedy and can provide almost immediate relief from stinging, itching feeling of sunburn.

Drink Extra Water :

When suffering from sunburn, make sure you drink extra amount of water. The sun fried your skin and also dehydrated it. Therefore, to replenish the liquid, keep your water intake high. Being well hydrated will expedite the healing process. To know you are well hydrated, clear urine can be used as an indication. Yellowness in urine indicates insufficiency of water in the body.

Soak Your Body :

Soaking your body in a tub of chilling water is a good idea to get relief from burning, itchy, stinging feeling of sunburn, especially when the sunburn is widespread and on a hard-to-reach area. Make sure you do not use soap, as it can irritate and make the skin dry, flaky. Also, abstain from washcloth, sponge, loofah, or any such soft body-cleaning agents. Keep in mind you do not soak up for quite long as it can dry your body and aggravate the condition by increasing itching and peeling. Alternatively, you can take a cool shower.

Moisturize Your Body :

Sunburn renders the skin flaky. In addition to this, it causes the cells and blood vessels to leak, thereby promoting loss of moisture. While cool compresses and bath can give some relief, they can also cause loss of moisture from already-drying and injured skin. Therefore, to prevent loss of moisture and to keep the skin hydrated, it is very essential to moisturize it on a regular basis. For best results, apply moisturizer immediately after you are done with bathing/soaking. To get cool relief from pain and dryness, place the moisturize in refrigerator before using.

Pat With Potatoes :

Potato is a wonderful, time-tested home remedy for relieving sunburn. Just take two washed potatoes and cut them in small chunks. Now, place the potatoes in a food processor and process them until in liquid form. Just add a little water if the resultant is too dry. Now, pat the affected areas with potatoes and let them dry. Once completely dry, take a cool shower. Repeat the procedure multiple times a day on a regular basis to get significant relief.

Cornstarch :

Sunburns irritate the most at places where you missed to apply the suntan lotion. Generally, these places are sensitive and hard to reach. Do not apply any oil or petroleum jelly on these places; these can exacerbate the burning sensation by blocking pores. Instead, to ease chafing, cover the burnt area with a dusting of cornstarch. However, if the burn is blistering, do not apply anything.

Apple Cider Vinegar :

Apple cider vinegar has cooling properties that can provide relief from itching, stinging, and burning sunburn. Just spray apple cider vinegar all over the burn and leave for some time. Alternatively, one can soak small towel in vinegar and apply on the affected area. Also, one can bathein cool water with 2 to 3 cups of apple cider vinegar added to it. Also, rose petal vinegar can be sprayed on the affected area to get relief. Lavender vinegar can also prove to be very helpful.

Tea :

Tea contains tannic acid which is soothing for sunburns. Just steep a large pot of very strong tea using around 6 teabags. Cool the in refrigerator and soak small towels to apply to the affected area. Alternatively, one can also spray the cold tea on to the sunburns. Also, one can bathe with several tea bags in the water to get relief.

Milk and Yogurt :

Soak small towels in milk and apply to the sunburnt skin. Also, one can soak in a bath with cool water and a gallon of milk to get relief. In addition to this, apply plain yogurt directly to the affected area to get relief from itching and stinging sensation.

Cucumbers :

Cucumbers are cool in nature can help a great deal in providing relief from burning sensation in sunburns. Just put slices of cucumbers directly on to the affected area. One can also mash them first and then apply as a paste. Alternatively, grate cucumbers and mix with milk to apply directly on to the affected area.

Egg Whites :

Mix two egg whites in one tablespoonful of honey and one tablespoonful of witch hazel. Mix it well. Apply directly on to the affected area to get a cooling, relieving sensation.

Witch Hazel :

Spray witch hazel directly on to the affected area to get instant relief from burning, stinging sensation.

Honey :

Honey is well known to possess healing properties. The healing liquid can be used to get relief from burning, stinging sensation in sunburn. One can apply honey directly on to the affected area to get almost immediate relief from pain and burning sensation. Alternatively, one can mix honey with lime or lemon juice in ratio of 80:20 and apply on to sunburns. One can also mix honey 50:50 with milk and apply on to the affected area.

Tomatoes :

Just mix a one-quarter cup of tomato juice or paste with one and a half cup of buttermilk. Apply the resultant mixture on the affected area gently. It will provide relief. Alternatively, one can slice or mash tomatoes and apply to the sunburnt skin. Mashed potatoes can be mixed with equal amount of buttermilk and applied on the sunburnt area to get relief. In addition to all this, one can also add two cups of tomato juice to cool bathing water and soak into it for 15-20 minutes.

Lettuce :

Boil quarter head of a lettuce in a pot for around 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and allow it to steep. Now, strain water and let the concoction cool down to room temperature. Spray the lettuce water directly on to the sunburnt area. One can also chill cooked leaves and apply directly to burn area. One can also use cabbage, mint, or plantain instead of lettuce and repeat the same procedure.

Strawberry Leaves :

Boil some strawberry leaves in 2 cups of water and prepare a concoction as above. Let the mixture cool down. Spray strawberry water directly on to the affected area to get relief from burning, itching, stinging sensation. Continue on a regular basis.

Other Methods :

One can apply either of the below-mentioned creams/ointments to get relief from sunburn.

  • Cocoa butter
  • Shaving cream
  • Vitamin E oil or cream
  • Diaper rash ointment

Diet for Sunburn

Sunburn leaves your skin dry, flaky, and stinging. In such a condition, it is very essential to have diet that does good to your skin. Vitamins that help in building, repairing, and improving the are vitamin E and vitamin C; therefore, when suffering from a sunburn, one should have a diet that is rich in vitamin E and vitamin C. One can also have vitamin supplements to expedite healing. In addition to this, antioxidants also help a great deal. In addition to the above, one should also drink plenty of fluids. Foods that help in sunburn and should be promoted in this condition include:

  • Tomato
  • Meat
  • Egg
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Citrus fruits
  • Green tea
  • Mineral water

Precautions to Prevent Sunburn
  • Use sunscreen lotions with SPF 30 or above whenever out in sun.
  • Never go out in sun without sunglasses.
  • Avoid venturing out in the sun during peak hours of the day.
  • Use hat and light clothing when out in sun.
  • Protect your lips from the UV rays using a good quality SPF lip balm.

Consult doctor immediately if:

  • Sunburn is severe
  • Purple patches, discolored blotches, or rashes appear
  • Eyelids have burning feeling with sore eyes
  • Feelings of nausea and vomiting arise
  • One feels feverish
  • One feels faint and dizzy
  • There is excessive pain and/or chills
  • There are large amount of blisters
  • One experiences headaches and swelling

DOs & DON'Ts
  • Never burst sunburn blisters, if any. It will avoid propagation of infection and expedite healing. Blister is the body's way of protecting and healing the damaged skin. Keep the blisters uncovered, if possible.
  • In case of blisters, prefer remedies that include vinegar and honey in them, as they are natural antibacterial agents.
  • Report fever, excessive pain, swelling to doctor immediately.
  • Do not use harsh soaps to wash sunburns.
  • For Pain Relief: Aspirin or ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed.

Other Treatment Methods for Sunburn

Over-the-counter Analgesics :

Nonprescription pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin can help in relieving pain and put down inflammation in case of a sunburn. Just consume regular dosage of over-the-counter analgesic with food as directed on the bottle. In case of any problem, irritation, or adverse sign, discontinue the medication straightaway and consult the doctor immediately. In case aspirin or ibuprofen is not tolerated by you, it can be substituted with OTC acetaminophen.

Topical Anesthetic :

Topical anesthetics like Solarcaine can offer temporary relief from pain and itching caused due to sunburn. You can also go for products containing lidocaine. Check your topical anesthetic for allergic reactions first. Topical anesthetics are available both in form of creams and sprays. Sprays can be applied more easily on to the affected area. Avoid spraying topical anesthetic directly on the face; instead, spray some on to a gauze and dab gently on the face.

For more Helpful Information Read Article Home Remedies for Sunburn.

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