Ahhh, summer! Finally, we can ditch the winter woolies and enjoy the sensation of warm sun on skin. Sunshine helps our bodies make vitamin D, which is essential to health. But a little sun exposure goes a long way. According to the National Institutes of Health:
“Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine three times weekly is enough to produce the body’s requirement of vitamin D. The sun needs to shine on the skin of your face, arms, back or legs (without sunscreen). Because exposure to sunlight is a risk for skin cancer, you should use sunscreen after a few minutes in the sun.”
The best sunburn remedy is protection. Skin damage adds up over the years, so taking care of your skin is a lifelong project.
First-aid for sunburn
Sunburn happens when you forget to take sun precautions until you feel the heat of a burn. Or you forget to reapply sunblock every two hours. If you do get burned, quick action helps reduce the damage to your skin, New York City dermatologist Whitney Bowe tells Men’s Journal:
“Although prevention is best, if you quickly treat a sunburn, you might have a shot at minimizing the damage done to the cells,” Bowe says. “You want to help the skin repair itself as quickly as possible.”
The itch begins
When the worst pain of a severe sunburn has passed, your problems may not be over. Itching can follow a bad burn. Several of our remedies are meant to help with itching. Dermatologist Jeffrey Benabio, physician director of health care transformation at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, explains in the DermBlog why sunburn itches:
Sunburn is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage to your skin. Too much UV damages your skin cells’ DNA, and your immune system responds by killing off the bad cells. Because UV radiation doesn’t penetrate (unlike X-rays for example), it damages only the surface layer of your skin. This outermost layer happens to be loaded with special nerve fibers called C-fibers, which are responsible for itch.
Get out of the sun
Once you’ve been sunburned, don’t let it get worse. Move into the shade or go indoors. If you are stuck — out on the water, for example — cover up. Good to know: Sunblock takes at least 20 minutes to start working.
If you have blisters over more than 20 percent of your body, go to the hospital, Robert Friedman, a dermatologist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, tells Men’s Journal.
Otherwise, treat pain and burning with these 26 remedies found in the kitchen, garden or medicine cabinet: