Preventing and Treating Sunburn: Preparing for the Heat Wave
Summer’s in, and so are sunburns. The hot season is usually highlighted by beach trips and outdoor treks: these are fun, but are likely to cause sunburn if you’re not careful.
Basically, this skin condition is a form of radiation burn which is caused by an overexposure to ultraviolet rays. It is pretty common, with cases skyrocketing during summer, thanks to people heading off to the beaches. Though relatively minor, it can last for several weeks, leaving your skin with a burning sensation and painful to touch.
Regardless if you’re planning to walk along the white sands or not, you need to protect yourself from this ailment considering that it’s one of the precursors of skin cancer.
So, here are some are some useful tips and reminders which can prevent and treat sunburns:
Don’t Be Exposed
The best way to prevent sunburn is to simply NOT be outside when the sun is at its hottest. Sure, it can put a damper on your vacation plans, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Reserve paragliding, swimming and other activities at six to nine in the morning and during late afternoons if you don’t want your skin to be red and sore all over.
As a general rule, do not expose yourself to the sun at 10 in the morning to four in the afternoon.
Invest in Sunscreen
There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. The former is responsible for damage like dark spots, wrinkling and photo aging (though they also stimulate the effects of UVB), while the latter is the party causing sunburn.
Usually, it takes at least 20-25 minutes for unprotected skin to be afflicted with sunburn. Applying sunscreen effectively blocks – and delays – the rays’ effects on the skin. Let’s say yours has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 20. Multiply 20-25 minutes by 20, and that’s how long your skin can hold off sunburn if it’s coated with sunscreen. It also absorbs the incoming UV rays: SPF 15 sunscreen can filter 93% of the rays, while SPF 30 can block 97%.
Remember though, applying this isn’t a one-shot deal: you need to reapply sunscreen once every two hours!
Wear Protective Clothing
No, we’re not talking about spacesuits and full jackets – we’re talking about:
- Wide brimmed hats which can protect your face, scalp, neck, and eyes from sun exposure.
- Sunglasses, to protect the skin around your eyes given that those areas are thin and sensitive .
- Loose clothing which covers your arms and legs – or you can walk around with a beach towel draped all over your shoulders.
Although it’s always best to talk to a doctor about this, here are some daily observances which can help you out:
- Cool baths and showers. Nothing is more soothing to sunburned skin than a cold bath. Pat yourself dry (do not wipe), leave a little water, and apply a moisturizing lotion to prevent dryness.
- Lotions with natural ingredients such as aloe vera, or creams and gels containing such will hasten healing.
- Getting enough water to drink. Sunburn can make your skin dry, so it’s best to rehydrate from the inside!
- Do not touch the blisters. It’s your skin’s defense mechanism to sunburn.