By: Lucy Wyndham
Dealing with Sunburn
It’s easy to minimize the danger of sunburn, but this fairly common problem can dramatically increase your risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US, with roughly one in five American adults developing it in their lifetime. Though most skin cancers have a low mortality rate it’s still very important to keep up good suncare habits in order to reduce risk as much as possible. However, if you do end up with a nasty sunburn, there are plenty of ideas for cure that can help to give you relief.
Sunburn pain can range from almost no discomfort to very painful sensitivity in the affected areas. If your sunburn is mild, it should usually subside after a day or two and will usually turn into a tan, depending on skin type. If you have more of the painful kind, however, there are various remedies that offer relief. One of the simplest and most effective ingredients for both relieving pain and speeding up recovery is aloe. This can be applied topically, in gel or cream form from a pharmacy or with fresh juice from aloe leaves. Essential oils can also provide relief, with lavender being useful as an anti-inflammatory and peppermint as cooling and numbing. You can add a few drops of oil to aloe vera gel, or add them to a lukewarm bath and soak your burnt areas.
Unfortunately, often sunburn is accompanied by painful or itchy peeling, which can be both uncomfortable and frustrating to deal with. While the temptation might be strong, it’s very important not to pick at peeling sunburn or attempt to remove skin: this will only make it worse and might actually damage or scar your skin permanently. Instead, to get rid of peeling skin a little more gently, take lukewarm or cold baths or showers, and apply ice (wrapped in a towel or some kind of barrier) to cool down and reduce sensation. Additionally, since sunburn majorly dries out your skin, make sure to drink plenty of water. Applying moisturiser (make sure it’s a gentle and unscented one!) to the area can also help with the feeling of tightness or peeling, and put much-needed moisture back into the skin.
Of course, this isn’t helpful after the fact, but if you have good suncare habits you can reduce the likelihood and the frequency of sunburns. The most important thing, of course, is correct sunscreen application. Make sure you apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors, and reapply every two hours or so–especially if you’re swimming or sweating. Additionally, sun protection like hats or some kind of shade is ideal even if you are wearing sunscreen, and make sure to protect your eyes, too. Even if you have darker skin and aren’t prone to sunburn, it’s still important to wear sunscreen: just because the risk of sun cancer or sun damage is lower doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
If you keep up good sun care habits, you’ll find yourself dealing with painful sunburns less and less, making for happier and healthier skin both in the short and long-terms. Sunburn happens occasionally to almost everyone, but it should never be a regular occurrence.
More from Health Power about Sunburn
When you think of sunburn, you typically think of a pale, freckled person, not someone with black skin. But people with black skin can get a sunburn right along with a friend who has pale skin. It’s true! It isn’t as easy to get a sunburn if you have dark skin rather than fair skin, but the risk is still there. That also means that everyone is a risk of developing skin cancer. The risk of sunburn has to do with the amount of melanin in one’s skin. Dermatologists rank all of us in a skin pigment level depending on melanin level. Melanin is the pigment in our hair, skin and eyes that give color. Those with lighter skin have less melanin than those with darker skin.
Sunburn on black skin looks different than sunburn on fair skin – a lot of the time the skin redness that shows up on lighter skin tones isn’t there on darker skin so it isn’t as obvious to people that they have gotten a sunburn. But tightness, pain, skin that is hot to the touch and peeling later on are all indicators that one has a sunburn no matter the skin color. Remember, getting just one blistering sunburn can up one’s chance of skin cancer later in life. So be sure to apply sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 each and every day.
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