An over exposure to sunlight causes sunburn on the skin. During these conditions, strong sunlight brings about the reddening and inflammation in the outer layers of the skin-the skin is thus reddened in response to the strong sun light and the result is sunburn. Mild cases of sunburn cause only some redness in the skin of the affected individual. The sunburn which is of moderate effect will induce the formation of small blisters along with the reddened skin. Sunburn which is serious or severe, causes the skin to take on a purple or singed tone, this is often accompanied by the development of chills, and fever in the affected individual. The appearance of all these physical symptoms occurs gradually and the symptoms may not peak till twenty four hours following the initial exposure, which brought on the burn. The pain is not the only reason to avoid developing sunburns on the skin. Sunburns occurring repeatedly can speeds up the aging process in the skin and also lead to an increase in the risk of skin cancers affecting the person.
The skin pigmentation of an individual is the main factor in the amount of exposure to sunlight which will produce a sunburn-skin pigmentation will vary from one person to the other, other factors are the geographical location of the person, the season plays an important part, another factor is the time of day, and the weather conditions also play a part. The main defense against sunburn is the pigment melanin, this skin pigment absorbs the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays-the pigment is responsible for the skin color of people, darker individuals have greater protection against the rays of the sun. Sunburn is also much more likely to affect fair-haired individuals with light eyes as they typically posses less melanin than dark skinned individuals-albinos are the most vulnerable group. Sensitivity of the skin to sunlight is also increased by the use of certain kinds of antibiotics and other prescription medications. For example, remedies made from the St. John's wort posses this property of increasing the sensitivity of skin.
Supplements and herbs
Sunburn cannot be prevented by the use of supplements, however, they can reduce the discomfort and the damage caused by the sunburn when used as topical remedies applied to the skin or taken in an oral form.
Immediate and emergency relief can come from the use of certain topical treatments; these will bring some soothing relief to the painful sensations arising from sunburns. Topical applications to treat a mild sunburn can be prepared by mixing ten drops each of herbal oils of the chamomile and lavender herb, these can be added to a cool bath- soak yourself in the bath for half an hour or longer to gain relief from the discomfort and to bring some moisture to the skin. Another method is to soak the body in a lukewarm bath to which a cup of baking soda has been added. For serious cases of sunburn, a topical remedy can be prepared using a few drops of oils made from the chamomile or lavender herbs, they can also be used together-to this mixture add half an ounce of a neutral oil, herbal almond oil is a good option. This remedy can be used as a topical remedy and it can be applied gently to the affected areas of the skin two times every day till the sunburn areas of the body begin to heal. A soothing effect can also come from the use of the aloe vera gel along with some chamomile or calendula cream-these can be bought from any health-food store, besides soothing the skin, this topical remedy will help speed the healing process in the skin.
Free radicals are released in enormous amounts from the skin exposed to string sunlight, these compounds damage the cellular structure of the skin-take some oral supplements of the antioxidant compounds such as the vitamin C and the vitamin E-this can be used for the long term, when necessary; both of these antioxidant compounds will help bring effective relief from the free radicals. The cream of the vitamin E used as a topical remedy will prove to be very useful and effective when applied to the skin-this topical treatment will heal the skin and prevent scarring from occurring in the affected regions of the skin. Skin healing is also promoted by the topical flaxseed herbal oil, this oil is very rich in the essential fatty acids-which are compounds that will help reduce the inflammation in the skin and restore skin tone.
Additional things you may do
Whenever you intend to go out into the sunlight especially during summers or at the beach-you must apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least fifteen on your skin. An exposure to sunlight must be avoided if possible, between 10 A.M. and 3 P.M.; the rays of the sun are strongest and have the highest UV component at this time period, cover up all exposed areas of the body with clothing and use wide-brimmed hats to shield the eyes from the sun's glare. If you are severely sun burnt, wear a cotton-flannel towel or shirt which has been soaked in some cold milk, or soak some cotton gauze in the milk and lace this gently across the affected areas of the skin. The affected areas of the skin can also be soothed using cooled and used tea bags across them as coverings. The pain felt from sunburns can be eased greatly by the compounds called tannins in the tea leaves. Bath water can also be fortified by add a cup of finely ground oatmeal to it; this is often sold as colloidal oatmeal in many pharmacies and health stores. This remedy will help in relieving the pain and itching sensations felt during severe sunburn.
- Aloe vera gel, apply aloe vera gel to affected areas of your skin when needed.
- Chamomile oil, mix with 15g of almond oil or add to a cool bath. Apply to your skin two times daily. Chamomile oil can be used with lavender oil. Calendula or chamomile ointment applied several times daily can also promote healing.
- Flaxseed oil, one tbsp. of flaxseed oil two times daily. Mix it with meal.
- Lavender oil, add to a cool bath or mix with 15 g of almond oil. Apply to your skin two times daily. Can be used with chamomile oil.
- Vitamin E, 400 IU two times daily, or apply topical cream when needed. If you take an anticoagulant medication, do not use it orally.
- Vitamin C, 1,000 mg thrice daily. If diarrhea develops, reduce the dosage.
Traditionally the aloe vera herb has been used to bring soothing relief to burns and to cool burns in the skin-many cultures have known this for centuries. Children with a sunburned skin can be treated by gently rubbing in a one hundred-percent aloe vera gel along the affected area of the skin-this will take away the heat and the stinging sensations felt by the child. This topical remedy can be applied as often as it is needed whenever it is necessary. Healing can be promoted in the area of the skin affected by the sunburn and the sensation of heat can also be removed, by using a clean white cloth which has been soaked in a cool herbal comfrey root tea, this cloth can then be applied as a compress along the affected area of the skin-the compress will bring relief from the painful sensations arising as a result of the burns. A compound called allantoin is found in high quantities in the comfrey root; this herbal compound helps bring relief and promotes healing in the affected skin of the child. Sun burns on skin can also lead to infection-the gotu kola is effective against sunburn and protects against infection of the affected area. Dosages of the gotu kola for a child four years of age or above includes one to two cups of the herbal tea or two capsules of the gotu kola extract every day. Sun burns on skin is often accompanied by stinging and burning sensations, applications of the nettle lotion, or nettle tincture, or some ointment directly to the burned area of skin can bring soothing relief and gradual restoration of skin.
Other beneficial herbs