Across the country and around the world, there have been reports of record high temperatures as well as above normal heat indices.
So it goes without saying that the sun’s UV rays are in full force and it’s imperative to protect your skin from getting burned or blistered.
A sunburn is not only painful, but it also expedites your skin’s aging process and can lead to skin cancer.
First, let’s briefly address the various types of sunburns:
The most common sunburn is a first-degree burn. With these types of burns, the skin becomes bright red in color and feels hot and tender to the touch.
A second-degree burn is more severe and usually involves fluid-filled welts or blisters on the skin. The skin often appears red and feels itchy. If the blisters pop, the patient can become at risk for infection. The concern about sunburns is that you may not see signs of a severe burn until 6 to 24 hours after the sun exposure.
Finally, the most severe burn is a third-degree sunburn. In this case, the skin is oftentimes very red to almost purple in color. Severe blisters are usually present on the skin and the patient may experience symptoms such as fever, chills, nausea, headaches or dehydration.
In mild cases of a sunburn (i.e. first-degree), only the top layer of skin, called the epidermis, is affected. The skin typically heals itself and relief can usually be achieved with an over-the-counter aloe vera gel.
With second and third-degree burns, the underlying skin, known as the hypodermis or subcutaneous tissue, is affected. There’s oftentimes exposure to nerves and blood vessels, which makes these burns quite painful. These burns are more severe and oftentimes require a visit to the doctor’s office or emergency room. Healing may take up to several weeks or months. The blisters associated with these burns may become infected which can result in significant scarring. Infection is not just a threat locally on the skin; however, systemic infections can arise in which case an antibiotic may need to be prescribed.
Here are some simple home remedies for first and second-degree sunburns:
- ==>Apply cool compresses on the affected area or soak the skin in cool (not cold) water.
- ==>Use over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories such as Advil or Motrin.
- ==>Apply aloe vera gel or other cooling lotions for pain relief. TIP: Keep aloe gel in your refrigerator for extra cooling relief for burned skin.
- ==>To help relieve pain and itching, try first aid sprays that contain benzocaine, which is a topical anesthetic. Solarcaine is a popular over-the-counter product.
- ==>For more extensive burns that cover a large surface area, soak in an oatmeal bath(such as Aveeno) and cool water to soothe itchy and inflamed skin.
Typically within a week or two after a mild burn, the redness will disappear and your skin will start to peel. Itching often occurs prior to the peeling so an aloe vera gel or oatmeal/cocoa butter based lotion can be applied to the skin to help relieve the itching.
The best way to prevent a mild or severe sunburn is to make sure you protect your skin prior to sun exposure.
Reduce sun exposure to times of the day when the sun is not at its strongest (noon – 3pm is the highest risk time).
Wear a large, brimmed hat to protect your face and a rash guard to protect your chest and arms. Other areas of your body should be covered with sunblock(no less than SPF 50) and be sure to reapply sunblock often.
Keep in mind that any damage to your skin now can have long-term effects in the future. Take sunburns seriously and protect yourself and your family accordingly.
[Editor’s Note: Whether you utilize home remedies or are seen in a medical setting, remember that sunburns may leave scarring. Scarology’s innovative 3-step process is designed to help make scars, including sunburn scars, less visible. Scarology’s step-wise approach involves a natural daily exfoliator to help skin rejuvenation, a scar cream to help with skin hydration, and silicone sheets to help with healing. Scarology is at the top of its class in scar fading and there’s nothing like it in the marketplace with its easy-to-use 3-step system.