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Tips for that Unintended Summer Sunburn

July 13, 2017

For many of us, July is filled with flags, fireworks, and fun in the sun.   However, if you or a family member wake up looking like a lobster, you may have overdone the sun exposure.

Every sunburn incident results in some level of DNA-damaged skin. Multiple burns increase the risk (by as much as 80%) of developing skin cancer including melanoma. Although melanoma accounts for only 1% of all skin cancers, if caught early it is very treatable. If not caught early, it will spread to other areas of the body making the prognosis much worse. Skin damaged by sun exposure is also associated with basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Most of us know how to avoid sunburns by limiting sun exposure, applying and reapplying sunscreen often, and wearing protective clothing and hats. However, many of us are less familiar with options to ease the pain and suffering if sunburn occurs. Here are a few tips:

  • Water – Hydration
    Normal daily baseline water intake (measured in ounces) should equal half your bodyweight (measured in pounds). For example, a 200-pound person should drink a baseline of 100 ounces of water daily. In addition to this baseline amount, drink 8 additional ounces of water for every hour you are in the sun, every hour spent exercising and/or every half pound of sweat loss (estimated or determined by weight before and after activity). It is best to drink water while in the sun and exercising, however, if hydration was not adequate prior to sun exposure or exercising you should increase water intake per the above recommendations.
  • Vinegar – helps prevent pain, infection, and peeling. Use white or apple cider vinegar on the burn as follows:
    • Apply with a spray bottle every couple hours
    • Add 2 cups to bath and soak for 15 minutes
    • Soak a washcloth and apply to burned area for 15 minutes
    • For areas on the face, use a cotton ball dipped in vinegar and dab the affected area
  • Tea – helps with post-burn inflammation and, when used daily, may help prevent burns and skin cancer.
    • Apply cool green or black tea to a cotton ball and apply to the skin
  • Vitamin E and C – neutralizes free radicals and helps skin heal faster.
    • Take 1000 mg of vitamin E and 500 mg of Vitamin C four times daily for 8 days after a burn
  • Aloe – helps sunburn pain, itching, inflammation, and healing.
    • Mix aloe with honey, peppermint and lavender essential oil
    • Mix aloe with water, peppermint and lavender essential oil in a spray bottle
  • Lavender and Peppermint – helps with sunburn pain and facilitates healing.
    • In a spray bottle, mix 1 tsp. each of lavender and peppermint essential oils and apply to skin mixed with:
      • 1 ½ cups of water, or
      • ½ cup apple cider vinegar with ½ cup black tea, or
      • ⅛ cup coconut water plus ½ cup aloe juice
    • Apply as a gel with two teaspoon of lavender oil, 2 teaspoons peppermint oil, eight tablespoons of aloe gel, two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, and 4 capsules of vitamin E 400 IU
  • Milk or Yogurt
    • Apply yogurt to skin for 10 minutes
    • Add evaporated milk to bath and soak for 15 minutes
  • Baking Soda – fights inflammation and aids in healing.
    • Add to bath water one cup of baking soda mixed with 1 cup evaporated milk
    • Can also add 2 cups of ground oats to the bath water  (or put the oats in a  pantyhose sock, cover the bath faucet head, and allow the water to run through).
  • Cornstarch – to avoid skin irritation
    • sprinkle on bed sheets before sleeping

Taking precautions before sun exposure will help minimize the risk of dealing with a sunburn after. If you end up with a sunburn, use some or all of the tips above to minimize the symptoms associated with a sunburn and help decrease the permanent damage sunburns can cause.

We are here to help you and your family live healthy lives. If you would like to learn more about Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care, visit our website here. You can also call to schedule an appointment with one of our Tampa integrative medicine providers at (813) 960-3415.

Dr. Catherine Nutting earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the University of South Florida and is certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner. In addition, she earned a Diplomate Certification as an American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioner (ABAAHP) from the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Dr. Nutting also completed an integrative medicine residency through the University of South Florida and holds a Masters of Medical Science in Nutrition and Metabolic Medicine. She is also a Fellow of Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine.