Tag Archives: tanning

Take the Burn out of Sunburn: A List of Remedies

1 Jun

Here are some suggestions to help heal a sunburn. While we encourage you to take precautions when out in the sun to avoid damaging the skin, sometimes things just happen.

Be aware that when you’re out in the sun and notice your skin becoming mildly red and think it’s not big deal, it may be more severe than first glance.  The severity of a sunburn may not be visible for another 12 to 24 hours after exposure.  The first thing to do when you have the first hint of a sunburn is to protect the area.  Here’s the thing: It’s too late at this point to apply sunscreen.  You need to get out of the sun completely or at the least cover-up.  The pain for a sunburn peaks about 6 hours after and can continue up to  48 hours.

Once out of the sun:

  • Showers and Compresses
    Keep the area cool by applying a cold compress or frequently taking cool showers or baths.  There are suggestions below for herbal compresses that can be applied to the sunburn.
  • Lavender
    Lavender essential oil helps heal and soothe sunburn. Make sure it’s true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, officinalis, or vera) and not Spike Lavender or Lavandin that you use.  On a mild burn or small patch you can use the lavender directly (neat).  For other burns, dilute lavender (10 -15 drops) with water in a spray bottle and spray on the burn.  You can also make a cool compress from the diluted lavender or put some drops in a tepid bath.  Lavender and Aloe Vera (from a plant) can be mixed together with a little cool water and applied by spray or on a cool compress.  If using a spray bottle be careful to avoid spraying into your eyes.

  • Vinegar
    White or apple cider vinegar diluted with water is highly recommended by many people for sunburn relief.  Try putting some in a clean spray bottle and spraying the area frequently.  Be careful not to spray the vinegar in your eyes.  Two cup of vinegar can also be added to a tepid bath.
  • Teas
    Chamomile, black, or green tea can also help relieve sunburn.  Brew several bags to make a strong tea.  Brew the teas individually or combine chamomile with either black or green tea.  Allow the tea to cool and make a compress, or add it to a cool bath.  Be aware that tea stains fabrics.
  • Milk
    Whole milk and water in equal parts can help relieve sunburn discomfort.  Apply by soaking a small towel and applying to the area.  You can also add milk to a tepid bath. The protein in milk creates a soothing film.  You want to dilute the milk because when undiluted it hardens and cracks as it dries, which will irritate the burn.

  • Moisturizers
    Apply a sunburn friendly moisturizer to the area (aloe vera, calendula cream). 

    • Avoid moisturizes that have alcohol, benzocaine, lanocaine, or other anesthetics.  Alcohol will dry out the skin. Anesthetics haven’t shown to help a sunburn, but have shown to irritate the skin.  Best to stay away from anything that has chemicals in them.
    • According to the Mayo Clinic, benzocaine has been linked to a rare but deadly condition where the amount of oxygen in the blood decreases.  Do not use benzocaine on children under that age of two without medical supervision because children of this age group have been the most affected.
    •  Aloe Vera is often recommended, but before buying an aloe vera product for sunburn read the label.  Many aloe vera products have alcohol and other chemicals in them that could irritate the sunburn.  Buy an aloe vera plant and use the gel directly from the leaf.
    • Also avoid using petroleum products (Vaseline) and butters such as cocoa butter; they hold in the heat.
  • Anti-inflammatories
    Take an anti-inflammatory (aspirin or ibuprofen) for pain and to decrease inflammation.  There are also some good natural pain relief products. End Pain is the name of one.  Besides helping the pain, it also helps in the healing process. It can be found at natural grocery stores.  Do not give aspirin to children or teenagers because of the potential for Reye’s Syndrome.
  • Hydration
    Sunburns can cause headaches and dehydration.  Headaches are often the body’s sign that you aren’t hydrated.  So, rehydrate the body by drinking water.  Avoid alcoholic and carbonated beverages.  You can also lie down in a cool, dark room to help with the headache.
  • Vitamin C
    Increase your intake of vitamin C.  Vitamin C helps to heal skin damage and wounds.  Some foods high in vitamin C are melons, oranges, grapefruit, berries, and kiwi.

  • Calendula
    Calendula cream heals, moisturizes, and will help soothe a sunburn.  You can buy it at health food or natural grocery stores.  You can also try brewing a tea with calendula herbs; cool it and apply with a compress or put it in a tepid bath.
  • Peeling
    Peeling is part of the natural process of sunburn healing.  Continue to apply sunburn sensitive moisturizer to the burn area.
  • Blisters
    Don’t mess with any blisters that form by trying to break them open.  Allow them to heal on their own or seek medical attention. Keep the area clean and apply calendula cream to the blisters and/or cool compresses.

When to Seek Medical Help

  • If you have any of these symptoms or combination: Fever, Chills, Nausea, Rapid Breathing, Rapid Pulse, Dizziness, Dehydration, Severe Headache, Shock, Severe Blistering, and Itchy Bumps. These can be signs of sun poisoning.
  • Sunburn area becomes infected.
  • The sunburn does not heal within a week or so.
  • Eyes hurt and are sensitive to light
  • If you feel unwell anytime during the healing process, seek medical attention.

FYI:  Someone on our staff  sought to relieve a severe sunburn burn that had itchy bumps by going swimming in a  pool. The chlorine in the water turned the bumps into second-degree burns.  Talk about pain……

Prevention is the best cure….  Read our blog on Skin Cancer to see how to protect yourself in the sun.

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Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D, “Sunburn Treatment: What Works,” Mayo Clinic. Online: www.mayoclinic.com/health/sunburntreatment/AN01423

“Sunburn: Home Treatment,” WebMd. Online: http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/tc/sunburn-home-treatment

Siamak Nabili, MD, MPH , Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, “Sunburn and Sun Poisoning,” Medicine Net.com. Online: http://www.medicinenet.com/sunburn_and_sun_poisoning/article.htm

“Vitamin C,” Medline Plus. Online: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002404.htm



May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

11 May

May is skin cancer awareness month.  Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.  More than 2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year.  The rate of skin cancer has been on the increase for the last 30 years.  But, the good news is that caught early it’s also the most easily treated form of cancer.  The bad news, if you are young, is that there’s been an increase in teens and twenty-somethings getting skin cancer. The types of skin cancer are usually not seen until people are in their 50’s or older.

The highest rate of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, has been among younger women.  Several reasons have been given for this rise.  Young women’s use of tanning beds and penchant for laying-out in the sun are the more obvious reasons.  Interestingly, sunscreen also contributes to the increase.  Huh? You ask.  It’s not that sunscreen contributes directly to increase risk.  It’s that people (not just the ladies) apply sunscreen and then stay out longer in the sun without reapplying it.  The other thing people do is not apply enough sunscreen.

Part of the confusion with sunscreen is in the labeling of these products. The Environmental Working Group analyzed sunscreens over a four-year period.  They found that only 39 of 500 popular sunscreen products provide sunscreen protection.  To be protected, a sunscreen should have ingredients that protect against both UVA and UVB rays.  And the SPF rating applies only to the protection against UVB rays and not UVA rays. 

Finally, after 30 years…the FDA has created truth in labeling regulations for sunscreen products.  But wait– while the regulations were finalized in October 2010, they don’t take affect until 2012. In the meantime, check out the Environmental Working Groups list of sunscreens that offer broad-spectrum protection with the link at the end of the article.

Interestingly, the U.S. City 100 Project reports that there is on average more tanning bed salons in U.S cities than there are Starbucks and McDonalds.   This is important because the World Health Organization has declared that tanning devices are just as much as a cancer-causing agent as tobacco is. WHO reports there’s a 75% increase in risk of melanoma from people who have used tanning devices.  The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) opposes indoor tanning for nonmedical purposes.  They support bans on tanning beds and on advertising that claim tanning devices are safe or not harmful.  The AAD says there is no such thing as a safe tanning bed, tanning device, or even a safe tan.  A tan no matter the source damages the skin…period.

Young people often think because they are young that over exposure to the sun or the use of tanning beds won’t affect them.  That’s, however, a false assumption.  The damage a person does to their skin when younger carries through as they age. This applies not only to the of skin cancer, but to wrinkles and sagging skin as well.  

Here’s a list from the American Academy of Dermatology on protecting yourself in the sun.

Be Sun Smart®:

  • Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 [FDA will limit SPF to 50] or more to all exposed skin. “Broad-spectrum” provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, where possible.
  • Seek shade when appropriate. Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, seek shade.
  • Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand because they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
  • Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
  • Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
  • Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.


            National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov

            American Academy of Dermatology, http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/skin-        cancer-detection

            Environmental Working Group, http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/best-beach-   sport-sunscreens/

Caution: Use of Tanning Beds for Skin Rashes Could Be Deadly

6 Apr

This is yucky stuff, but someone has got to talk about it!

Using tanning beds to self-treat undiagnosed skin eruptions or rashes can cause harm or even be deadly.  Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine Dermatology report on a growing trend: People believe that the radiation (UV rays) from tanning beds can reduce or eliminate skin rashes.  However, a study done by IUSM showed that if the rash is unknown and/or caused by medication or drugs, a person could do more harm by using a tanning bed.

The study reported on a person who had a mild skin reaction to Ibuprofen and used a tanning bed to reduce the symptoms.  After the tanning session, the person’s blood pressure dropped, the skin blistered and the rash spread.  She was diagnosed with toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) a life threatening disease.  TEN attacks skin cells and other tissues in the body, which can cause hemorrhaging, respiratory failure, and other life-threatening symptoms.

Bottom line is do not self-treat an unknown skin condition with a trip to the tanning salon; seek the advice of a physician.  For detailed information, click on the link below.

Story Source: Science Daily, Mar. 2, 2011. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110301151207.htm

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