Beliefnet
A Prescription for Healthy Living

This weather sure does call you to the beach! There’s no better time to basque in the sun, laying out, soaking up the rays to get that bronze tan… Nothing beats a refreshing swim when it’s hot outside. The downside is when you get that sunburn and it ruins everything. In fact, even the tan you were going for isn’t especially healthy.

A Sunburn is, as the name suggests; a burn. It’s caused by the ultraviolet radiations (UVA and UVB). Your skin has a protective pigment called Melanin. When the melanin in the skin cannot adequately keep up with protecting you from the UV rays, you get burned. The darker your skin, the more melanin you have, so more fair skinned folks are at higher risk for burn.

The common symptoms of a sunburn include:
– Redness and swelling
– The area with the sunburn feels warm or hot
– Pain
– The skin starts to peel
– Sometimes fluid-filled blisters appears
– In severe cases, fever, chills, nausea and vomiting , fainting could happen

The complications from sunburn, don’t end at the red skin. Sunburn can increase your risk for skin infections. Sunburn is also a primary factor in premature aging, and worse of all skin cancer.

I see some raising eyebrows asking: so how can we protect out skin from sunburn?

– Avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10 am till 2 pm
– Always wear a hat and a sunglasses
– Use sunblock between 15 to 30 SPF. The higher the SPF the better protection it gives you. Choose a waterproof sunblock to avoid losing your protection from swimming or sweating, and reapply every 2 hours.
– Always use a lip balm with at least SPF 15
– Some medications increase your sun sensitivity like certain antibiotics, even over-the-counter herbs may cause photosensitivity, such as St John’s Wort.

Tanning beds are not as innocent as you might think. Recent studies shows that they could cause skin cancer.

Finally, even if it doesn’t seem to be sunny outside you should take all the above precautions. In fact, the clouds may block many of the sun’s rays, but the UV rays still get through.

If it should happen that you get a sunburn, there are few things that you can do to help your skin heal sooner and hurt less.

– Over-the counter anti-inflammatory and pain medications such as Ibuprofen and Aspirin could help with the pain.
– Cool compresses of milk and water can soothe and moisturize the skin.
– Aloe-based lotions or gels can improve healing and even avoid peeling.

Definitely avoid any perfumes or bath salts when you have a sunburn as it may sting or even make it worse. Also, do not use topical anesthetic medications.

Enjoy the sun! Just remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry, and don’t forget your sunblock, hat and sunglasses before you go to the beach! Have a nice time!

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