With the Weather in the UK hitting record temperatures this week, I wanted to talk a little about sunburn. The sun has received some bad press over the last few years as skin cancer is on the rise, and we are more aware of taking care not to burn, even on overcast days like today.
Having said this, I have seen people who burn on holiday in order to increase their sun tan, or sometimes accidentally, as they sit enjoying a drink with their friends in the beer garden, as well as those like Nicole Kidman who never sunbathe, and may not be getting their daily dose of Vitamin D!
Sunlight gives off several types of ultra violet (UV) light. UVA rays are the ageing rays; they can penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB rays, and causes damage to the fat layer of the skin. To try to protect itself, the skin produces melanin, a pigment which turns the skin brown. UVB are burning rays, and UVC are the most dangerous. Both UVA and UVB are absorbed by the ozone layer (or what’s left of it).
We all know that too much sun accelerates the ageing process, in fact 80% of age related skin damage comes from too much sun. You can reduce the ageing effects by tanning slowly, turning brown gradually with a little daily exposure. Turning red after too much sun is caused by the red blood cells responding to the heat generated on the skin – your blood is basically trying to cool your skin!
But with this great weather not likely to last, it can feel good to have the warmth of the sun on your skin, to squeeze in those lazy hours in the garden, or take the kids to the beach for the day. It can also be beneficial, as without it we can become deficient in Vitamin D which is vital for healthy bones and teeth. Sunbathing helps to lower cholesterol, and increases hair and nail growth as well as preventing SAD syndrome – triggered when we get don’t get enough sunshine.
The key is to find a healthy balance, for example, just 15 minutes a day can produce several days’ supply of Vitamin D.
Some hints and tips for healthy sunbathing
Avoid dehydration – being out on the sun, we can sweat more and can quickly dehydrate. Drink plenty of fluids (water where you can), and limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine and fizzy drinks. You can also hydrate with foods such as water melon.
Don’t allow your skin to go really red, as this can lead to skin cancers, broken skin, and unsightly capillaries on the face – keep cool with a damp flannel, and sit in the shade during the hottest part of the day.
Try Organic sun creams like those by Green People. The UV protection comes from an extract of cinnamon, and the elder Weiss from the Alps is high in antioxidants. They also contain green tea extract, avocado oil, Echinacea, myrrh and calendula that helps to soothe the skin. Visit www.greenpeople.co.uk
To avoid cataracts and laughter lines around the eye, wear sunglasses that block 99-100% UVA rays.
Wear a hat, which also reduces the UV radiation to the eyes.
Avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm in the English Summer as the sun is at its hottest.
Natural Remedies for Sunburn
If you are caught out and get sunburned, here are some natural ways to help:
To relieve sunburn pain, apply a cold-water compress over the affected area or fill a bathtub with cold water and dissolve one pound of baking soda or oatmeal in it. Soak in the bath for 30 minutes, until you feel relief.
The enzymes and probiotics in plain, unflavoured yogurt help to heal sunburn naturally. Apply yogurt directly to burned areas and let sit for at least five minutes. When the pain subsides, gently wash off with cool water.
Do not apply any creams, butter, petroleum jelly or any other greasy substance to a sunburn. They only cause more damage by trapping the heat and can make a burn deeper. The sunburn will heal faster if left exposed to the air. Try soothing Aloe Vera instead.
Mix a few drops of Lavender essential oil in a spray bottle with still water, and spray lightly onto the affected area as it contains analgesic and sedative properties. Try also adding a few drops tea tree oil for its anti-inflammatory and tissue regenerating properties.
Enjoy the British summer, come rain or shine!