We have all probably had the misfortune of having a severe case of sunburn, were the simplest touch to our skin causes pain for a day or two.
This is followed up by an unsightly peeling of one's now dead sunburned skin.
On this page we will explain sunburn and list current treatments and view points.
What is Sunburn
Sunburn is a painful inflammatory skin reaction due to over exposure to UV radiation typically from sunlight.
Sunburn can be caused by other forms of UV Radiation like Sunlamps, Sunbeds or Welding etc.
Sunburn normally only affects the outer most layer of our skin ( First degree Burn ) and in extreme and repeat prolonged sun exposure may result in secondary burns and blistering. Sunburn cannot cause third degree burns, and is highly unlikely to cause any form of skin scarring. Sunburn can occur in 15 minutes or less sun exposure with people who are fair skinned and sun-sensitive. The effects of excessive sun exposure are unfortunately only observed 2 to 5 hours after sun damage to the skin has occurred. The inflammatory, reddening of the skin is most evident only 12 to 30 hours after excessive sun exposure.
Symptoms of Sunburn
- Pain and Tenderness at exposed skin areas
- Reddening and inflammation ( A feeling of warmth )
- Blistering in Severe Cases
- Vomiting and Nausea in Severe Case
- Peeling and de-scaling of the skin 3 to 7 days later
- Fever like symptoms in severe sunburn cases
What not to do with Sunburn
Avoid further sun exposure
Do not use Petroleum Jelly or any heat retaining rubs
Do not put on Butter or Toothpaste
Do not have a hot shower
Leave Blisters from Severe Sunburn Intact to prevent secondary infection.
Treatment of Sunburn
If your kids show any symptoms of severe sunburn one is adviced to consult a doctor immediately.
- A cool ( not cold bath ) is effective in reducing irritation and pain levels.
- Increase liquid intake for 2 to 3 days.
- Take Aspirin for pain and inflammation ( Kids are adviced to take Ibuprofen containing or other physician recommended pain killers ).
- Ensure all areas of sunburn are not exposed to further sun damage until healing has occurred.
- Physician issued oral steroids or corto-steroids have shown to reduce severe symptoms.
- Topical Steroid creams probably have minimal or no effect
- Vitamin A C and E containing creams have a beneficial effect on the sunburned areas.
- Elastin containing creams may shorten healing time
- Silver sulfadiazine (1% cream) is often prescribed
- Creams with a Cooling and Evaporative effect can prove soothing
Natural Sunburn Remedies
- Aloe Vera and other Succulent herbs ( eg. Bulbanella Species ) are reported to have positive effects.
- Cold Milk Compress: The fatty acids and possibly lactic acids in milk are reported to have healing effects on sunburn. Use a cloth or compress and soak with milk before placing on sunburned skin areas. ( Use full cream milk or half cream and milk as the fatty acids are more present in cream)
- Cold Sugarless tea: Cold ceylon tea is rich in tannins which might have positive effects on healing your sunburn.
- Apply cold, used tea bags to sun-burned eyelids to relieve pain and swelling
- The old method of a cool bath with a few table spoons of apple vinegar might also have merit
- Cucumber cut into thin slivers and applied to the affected area's is claimed to reduce inflammation and swelling
- With sunburn our bodies dehydrate and lose water as well as mineral salts. Lots of Fruit juice as well as water will replenish your natural stocks