The skin is the largest organ in the body, so take care of it! Sunburn is a common threat we all face, whether in the midst of summer or traveling to sun-shiny locales. Here are a few pointers to protect and treat your largest organ from the damage of UV rays.
The sun can cause some ferocious immediate or delayed reactions on the skin. First of which being sunburn. Of course, the best way to protect against burns is application of sunscreen SPF 30 or higher, applied at least 15 minutes before outdoor exposure. The best type is always a cream base, as sprays are often lost into the surrounding air instead of the skin. Yet, amount applied is just as important, as many people are not applying enough sunscreen to be protective. Remember, golf ball or shot glass size for a whole body application!
Brands: look for chemicals that keep the sunscreen stable longer like Helioplex in Neutrogena products. Blue Lizard products are also great (www.bluelizard.net). For those with sensitive skin or whom seem to break-out from sunscreen try brands like La Roche Posay Anthelios (http://www.laroche-posay.us/anthelios-skin-care) or for the ultimate sensitivities Vanicream Sunscreen is a super sensitive skin product, free of parabens, dyes, fragrance, formaldehyde, preservatives, and also has the antioxidant Coenzyme CoQ10. (https://www.psico.com/products/sunscreens/). Neutrogena Tone & Repair Lotion with an SPF of 30 is also a great light-weight, non-comedogenic formula. Sunscreens are independently tested by their manufacturing labs, without further verification from the FDA, so go with big name brands. They are more likely to have larger labs and processes for testing their product.
SPF: Find sunscreen with Broad Spectrum protection against UVA/UVB of SPF 50 or higher. However, note that going from an SPF of 50 to 100 only offers a 1% increase in protection!
Sun Protective Clothing: Covering up the skin with a physical barrier rather than a chemical barrier, is also a protective measure. However, the last decade has produced clothing with SPF in brands such as Coolibar that blocks 98% of UVA/UVB rays (http://www.coolibar.com/home.jsp). Your eyes also need protection as extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye problems that can cause temporary vision loss. Make sure your sunglasses are UVB 100 in protection.
Remember sunscreen is not approved for babies under 6 months, so avoidance and clothing coverage must be utilized.
If your efforts at protecting your skin from the sun fail, you may need to initiate a Code Blue of Skin Therapy.
H2O: Drink lots of water to replenish that which you will lose. Cool clothes to the area are also quite soothing. Bathing in a cool tub of water + Oatmeal, Chamomile, or Lavender can also ease irritation.
Products: Aloe Vera is an old stand-by that is one good option, a favorite of mine is Calendula Lotion. This organic ingredient is a soothing agent to heal burns. Another sound choice for fiery inflammation is cortisone OTC which comes in a variety of brands. This medication is anti-inflammatory. Coating skin with a mild emollient is also prudent to promote wound healing. Options like Cerave Intensive Repairing Ointment, Coconut Oil, or Aquaphor are great skin barrier repair topicals.
Anti-inflammatory agents: Pain can be treated with OTC medications such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen.
Blisters: Leave blisters to heal naturally, but take care to prevent infection by cleaning lesions with soap and water and application of polysporin. Signs of infection would be redness, pain, pus, warmth, and swelling which may warrant a visit to your health care provider.