Whether you are out on the move or on vacation, overexposure to the sun can hit anytime. This can result in both short and long-term adverse health effects and sunburn with varying degrees of severity.
Overexposure to the sun is also the primary reason for the early onset of skin wrinkles and dark spots. To protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun, it is important to understand how sun exposure works.
This is what we will cover in the following sections. Besides this, we will also explore the treatment methods and products that can help in relieving sunburn.
Table of Contents:
- What is Sunburn?
- Science of Sun Exposure
- Symptoms of a Sunburn
- Timeline of a Sunburn
- Preventing Sunburns
- Treatments for Sunburn
- What ingredients to look for in treating sunburn?
- Product Recommendations for Relieving Sunburn Faster
What is Sunburn?
Sunburn refers to when the skin gets damaged from overexposure to the UV light. Although the most common cause of sunburn is prolonged exposure to the Sun, in some cases it can also occur from other sources like tanning beds and sunlamps.
The effects of a sunburn can range from mild to severe. The skin can feel hot, itchy, irritated and, in some cases, can develop blisters too.
The harmful effects of the sun are not limited to pain and redness, as overexposure to the sun can also increase the risk of skin cancer.
The extent of damage and severity of the sunburn usually depends on the level of exposure and the person’s skin type.
Science of Sun Exposure
While overexposure to the sun can result in adverse effects, some amount of sun exposure can actually be healthy for you.
It provides your body with the necessary vitamin D, which can help keep your immune system healthy, promote bone growth, and also boost your mood.
Although there are many supplements on the market these days for increasing your vitamin D intake, the easiest way has always been direct exposure to the sun.
To understand the right way to get the necessary sun exposure, it is important to understand the science of the sun. The sun is a great source of energy that provides us with warmth through its infrared and visible light rays.
Sunburns are usually caused by ultraviolet light radiation, which is not visible to the human eye. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be in the form of UVA and UVB radiation, both of which cause skin damage. However, it is the UVB radiation that interacts with the 7-DHC protein of the skin to convert it into vitamin D3.
For starters, it is always a good idea to wear broad-spectrum sun protection when you know you are going to be out in the sun. This will protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation.
Secondly, your body can get all the vitamin D it needs with a few minutes of sun exposure. You do not need to sit for hours in the sun to increase your vitamin D.
Symptoms of a Sunburn
We have already stated the mild effects of sunburn, like redness, inflammation, pain, and sensitivity.
However, in some cases sunburn is severe and requires immediate medical attention.
Here are some severe sunburn symptoms:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
In certain extreme cases, sunburn can also coincide with heatstroke. Thus, it is important to be aware of the severity of sunburn.
It is best to seek medical advice in the following cases:
- Rapid pulse
- Low blood pressure
- Dizziness and fainting
- Shallow breathing
- Extreme weakness
- General pain in the body
- Changes in behavior like confusion and irritability
Timeline of a Sunburn
Here is what you can expect after getting a sunburn:
If you want to avoid sunburn, the best way is to be very careful when it comes to exposing your skin to the sun.
Here’s what we recommend:
- Sit in the shade
- Wear clothing (tightly woven fabric) covering the entire body
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat
- Use sunglasses to protect the eyes
- Avoid venturing out when it is blistering hot
- Always wear sun protection (SPF 30+). Keep reapplying the sunscreen at least every two hours.
- Also protect your neck, trunk, and other parts that are exposed to the sun.
Treatments for Sunburn
It is essential to treat sunburn immediately. This helps heal and soothe the skin faster.
The first thing you need to do is to get away from direct sunlight.
Once you are indoors, here are some tips for relieving the discomfort:
1. Take a cool bath: Shower or bathe in cool water to relieve the pain. After you exit the shower, pat your skin dry gently. But make sure to leave the skin slightly damp. You can then apply a moisturizer to lock the moisture in your skin to prevent dryness and flaking.
2. Choosing the right moisturizer: Look for a moisturizer with cooling ingredients like aloe vera, which helps in soothing the skin. If some part of the skin feels very uncomfortable, you should consider checking in with your dermatologist or GP.
3. Take medications: If you notice redness, swelling, and discomfort, you should take some ibuprofen or aspirin. But, before considering this treatment, it would be best to consult your GP.
In some cases of severe sunburn, the doctor can prescribe oral steroids to reduce the inflammation.
What ingredients to look for in treating sunburn?
While sitting out in the sun can be quite enjoyable, and even healthy in small doses, it can cause problems quickly if you do not protect yourself in the right way.
The pain and discomfort that comes with a sunburn can make basic activities like wearing clothes, showering, and laying down, difficult, too.
The best way to avoid sunburn is by wearing sunscreen and protective clothing every time you leave the house.
If you do get a sunburn, here are some ingredients to look for:
The best natural ingredient for treating sunburn is derived from the aloe vera plant. This is because aloe vera helps in soothing the skin. It also has wound healing properties.
If you have an aloe vera plant, you can slit open an aloe leaf and extract the fluid and pulp by using a spoon. This can then be applied to the burnt area.
The easiest way is to buy products containing aloe vera, like aloe vera lotions and gel.
This is another great ingredient for healing sunburned skin. Coconut oil contains certain fats that can help in softening and protecting sunburned skin.
Look for products containing coconut oil and apply them to damp skin. As the coconut oil in the product gets absorbed by the skin, it will have a soothing effect.
Oatmeal is a natural ingredient that provides a soothing effect to irritated skin. It is also a great option for sensitive skin in general.
You can look for products containing oatmeal, or apply a paste from ground-up oatmeal to sunburned skin. This paste can be made by combining oatmeal and honey.
Another great way to use oatmeal is by making an oatmeal bath. For this, all you have to do is put ground-up oatmeal in a cheesecloth and squeeze it into bath water to infuse it with oatmeal.
Tea and Witch Hazel
Both tea and witch hazel contain a natural compound – tannins, which are known to help with inflammation.
Thus, products containing witch hazel and tea extracts are great for treating sunburns topically.
You can also make a cold compress of tea and witch hazel to soothe the sunburned skin.
It is important to leave the compress on the skin for a while for the ingredients to take effect.
Reapply as many times as necessary. For an extra cooling sensation, you can also add mint leaves when you are brewing the tea for the compress.
Cornstarch can also be used in multiple ways to treat and heal sunburn. You can apply a paste of cornstarch to the burned skin.
Another great way to use cornstarch is by dusting the skin with it. It can help in reducing friction between sensitive sunburned skin and clothing.
Product Recommendations for Relieving Sunburn Faster
Here are some of our product recommendations for treating and soothing sunburned skin faster:
- Wow Skin Science Japanese Cherry Blossom Foaming Body Wash: A good body wash can help in healing from a sunburn faster. This body wash contains the goodness of aloe vera, shea butter, and argan oil, which helps in repairing the skin.
- Wow Skin Science Aloe Vera Body Lotion: This body moisturizer is a great product for sunburned skin. It contains aloe vera, which helps in soothing the skin; while shea and cocoa butter provide the necessary hydration to prevent dryness and flaking. What makes it even better is the fact that the product is 100% vegan and natural.
- Wow Skin Science Body Butter Raw African Shea: If the aloe vera lotion seems too light for your skin, you can opt for this product. This body butter contains raw African shea butter, which is widely known for providing hydration and healing scars. Besides this, it also contains aloe vera extract, which helps in providing a soothing effect.
- Wow Skin Science Aloe Vera Face Wash (Gel Type): You need to wash your face after sun exposure. However, it is important to ensure that the face wash is gentle. This gel-form face wash containing aloe vera extract is a great option. Besides aloe vera, it also contains green tea extract, which is known for its skin healing properties.
- Wow Skin Science Coconut Super Rich Facial Toner: This is a great product for facial skin, especially if it is sunburned. While the hydrating coconut water prevents dryness, the cooling cucumber water helps in soothing the inflamed skin. It also contains the goodness of aloe vera and witch hazel, which are both great ingredients for healing sunburn.
- Wow Skin Science Aloe Vera Multi-Vitamin Face Cream: After applying the coconut water-based toner, you would need to apply a face moisturizer too. This face cream is excellent for sunburned skin as its antioxidant properties have a neutralizing effect on damaging free radicals. Besides aloe vera, it also contains Vitamin A, B3, B5, C, and E; which help in nourishing the damaged skin barrier.
Sunburn doesn’t cause temporary pain only. Excessive exposure to the sun can actually damage your skin permanently, change your skin texture, and also lead to skin cancer. The best way to prevent sunburn is by ensuring you protect your skin from damaging UV light. If you do end up getting sunburned, the tips provided in this article can certainly help you heal your skin faster.
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