Summer is here, and many families are already on vacation. Some have headed to the beach for sun and surf, while others are heading to colder climates to get away from the heat.
Despite warnings about staying out of the sun or adequately protecting oneself, most of us expose ourselves to harmful UV rays, which can cause serious damage to our skin. Vacations are largely spent outdoors and therefore, when most get a bad sunburn.
Suntan and Sunburn: What’s the Difference?
Now before I say anything further, you should know that suntan and sunburn are not the same thing. Sunburn happens when the skin is exposed to strong UV/UB rays and it causes the skin cells to get damaged. The result is angry red skin which burns and causes tiny painful blisters to erupt on the skin.
Your skin has a chemical called melanin which is responsible for your skin color. When you are exposed to the sun, your body starts producing melanin as a defence mechanism to protect the deeper layers of skin from getting damaged. This leads to you getting tanned.
Sunburn is your skin’s reaction to the damage of the skin cells whereas, a suntan, is the skin’s reaction to overexposure to sun and release of melanin to protect you.
Home Remedies to Treat Sunburn
Chilled milk can help soothe the pain and reduce the heat in your body. Dip a napkin into a bowl of chilled milk and apply directly to the burnt area. You could also add a cup of chilled milk to your bathwater and soak in it.
Black tea is not only great to drink but is also an effective sunburn remedy. Black tea contains tannic acid, which helps soothe the burnt area. Soak a few teabags of black tea in a jug until it becomes jet black. Then wait for it to cool, dip a napkin in it and apply to the affected area. Don’t wipe it off. Let the liquid dry on your skin. It will ease the heat and the pain.
Some use potato slices while others recommend potato juice. Either method will help ease your pain. Potatoes work well on skin irritations, bites and burns. Scrub the potatoes well before using them. You could grate it and squeeze the juice out and soak a cotton ball in it and apply or cut slices and place it directly on the burnt area. You don’t need to remove the peel.
Aloe Vera gel is a great home remedy to soothe red irritated skin. Get a plant and keep it at home. It’s a remedy for so many ailments – sunburn, mosquito bites and pimples to name a few. Slice up a fleshy Aloe Vera leaf and slather on directly. The cool gel will give instant relief. If you don’t have the plant, then get a good quality Aloe-Vera gel from the market and keep at home for these little emergencies.
Apple Cider Vinegar:
Many swear by this remedy. Have a water shower only before you spray this on. Don’t use any soap. Put some apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz over the burn. You could soak some cotton balls in it and apply it too. Let this dry on your skin. It’s said that vinegar helps repair damaged tissues.
Cucumbers are natural painkillers. Mash up a cold cucumber and apply to the affected area. It has natural antioxidant properties which will help repair damaged skin cells.
Oats contains compounds which help heal the skin. Put a cup of oats in a sock, making sure the open end is sealed properly. Soak it in tepid or cool water for a few minutes. Squeeze the sock thoroughly. You will get a cloudy liquid which should be applied to the sunburnt area. Let your skin air-dry after.
While your skin is burnt on the outside, you also need to work on healing internally. If you are sunburnt, you may also be in danger of dehydrating. Drink a lot of water, and liquids like coconut water and nimbupani. Eat fruits like watermelon and oranges to replace the lost fluids.
As they say, prevention is better than cure. Remember to apply a sunscreen at least 20 minutes before you go out into the sun to protect yourself. Also, cover yourself as much as possible when you are out and about, it will keep your skin protected.
By Rahul Aggarwal
who is residing in Faridabad.