You lie out in the sun hoping to get a golden tan, but instead walk away from your lounge chair looking like a lobster that's been left in the pot too long.
Despite health warnings about sun damage, many of us still subject our skin to the sun's burning rays.
More than one-third of adults and nearly 70% of children admit they've gotten sunburned within the past year, according to the CDC.
Here's what you need to know about how to keep your skin safe and where to find sunburn relief if you do linger on your lounger too long.
What Causes Sunburn
You already know the simple explanation behind sunburn. When your skin is exposed to the sun for a period of time, eventually it burns, turning red and irritated.sunburn
Under the skin, things get a little more complicated. The sun gives off three wavelengths of ultraviolet light:
UVC light doesn't reach the Earth's surface. The other two types of ultraviolet light not only reach your beach towel, but they penetrate your skin. Skin damage is caused by both UVA and UVB rays.
Sunburn is the most obvious sign that you've been sitting outside for too long. But sun damage isn't always visible. Under the surface, ultraviolet light can alter your DNA, prematurely aging your skin. Over time, DNA damage can contribute to skin cancers, including deadly melanoma.
How soon a sunburn begins depends on:
Your skin type
The sun's intensity
Signs of Sunburn
When you get a sunburn, your skin turns red and hurts. If the burn is severe, you can develop swelling and sunburn blisters. You may even feel like you have the flu -- feverish, with chills, nausea, headache, and weakness.
A few days later, your skin will start peeling and itching as your body tries to rid itself of sun-damaged cells.
Sunburn treatment is designed to attack the burn on two fronts -- relieving reddened, inflamed skin while easing pain. Here are a few home remedies for sunburn:
Compresses. Apply cold compresses to your skin or take a cool bath to soothe the burn.
Creams or gels. To take the sting out of your sunburn, gently rub on a cream or gel containing ingredients such as:
Refrigerating the cream first will make it feel even better on your sunburned skin.
NSAIDs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen or naproxen, can relieve sunburn swelling and pain all over your body.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and other fluids so that you don't become dehydrated.
Avoid the sun. Until your sunburn heals, stay out of the sun.
You may be able to treat the sunburn yourself. But call for a doctor's help if you notice any of these more serious sunburn signs:
Fever of 102 degrees or higher
Sunburn blisters that cover 20% or more of your body
Dry mouth, thirst, reduced urination, dizziness, and fatigue, which are signs of dehydration
Here are some tips for keeping your skin safe when you're outside:
Watch the clock. The sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you can't stay indoors during that block of time, at least stick to shady spots.
Wear the right clothes. When you have to be outdoors, wear sun-protective clothing, such as:
A broad-brimmed hat
A long-sleeved shirt and pants
Use sunscreen. Cover any exposed areas of skin liberally with at least 1 ounce of broad-spectrum sunscreen. That means sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
The sunscreen should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Follow these tips for applying sunscreen:
Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before you go outside.
Use sunscreen even on overcast days because UV rays can penetrate clouds.
Reapply sunscreen every two hours -- or more often if you're sweating heavily or swimming.
If your child gets sunburned, make sure she drinks plenty of fluids since sunburns are dehydrating, and keep her out of the sun until she's healed. Contact your pediatrician immediately if your child is under age 1 or if she has blisters, severe pain, lethargy, or a fever higher than 101 degrees. For mild sunburns, try these all-natural skin soothers.
Wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen veggies in a soft towel and apply to the burn. Never place ice directly on skin as it can cause frostbite and more damage.
A cool (but not too cold) bath, shower, or moist compress takes away heat and pain. Don't scrub skin or use products like bath oils, soap, or bubble bath.
The gel from inside this cactus plant eases discomfort, speeds healing, and moisturizes skin. Either split a plant leaf and apply the sap directly to skin, or buy pure aloe vera gel at your local drugstore.
The sticky stuff's been used as a topical burn salve since Egyptian days. "Studies suggest it may work better than some antibiotic creams at speeding up healing, reducing infection, and minimizing pain," says Kathi Kemper, M.D., author of The Holistic Pediatrician. Note: Skip this remedy for babies younger than 12 months, as accidental ingestion of the honey could put them at risk for developing infant botulism.
Finely ground oatmeal (sold as colloidal oatmeal in drug stores) works as an anti-inflammatory when mixed with bath water. Make your own by pulverizing a cup of instant or slow-cooking oatmeal in a blender or food processor until it has a smooth, fine consistency. Pour into tepid bath water and soak.
Wet a washcloth or cotton gauze with this anti-inflammatory astringent and apply to the skin three or four times a day for 20 minutes to minimize pain and itching.
Place a washcloth or cotton gauze soaked in cool milk on the reddened area to create a protein film that eases discomfort and reduces heat.
Baking Soda or Cornstarch
Soaking in bathwater mixed with baking soda or cornstarch can relieve inflammation and itching.
Acetic acid in vinegar alleviates pain, itching, and inflammation. Pour one cup of white cider vinegar into tepid bath water and soak.
Studies suggest rubbing this essential oil onto sunburned skin may reduce inflammation.
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.
Hot days, cool nights could only mean one thing - the summer is upon us and, for many, that means it's time to sport the summer glow. But amid the excitement, don't forget the importance of safe tanning.
The desire for the sun-kissed look is an outlook shared by many Americans adults and teens. In a survey conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), 80 percent of the 7,100 male and female survey respondents said they had concerns about skin cancer, but 72 percent still found tanned people were more attractive. Young teens were found to associate beauty with tanning because it looks "healthy". However, less than half of all teenagers use sunscreen, says the Skin Cancer Foundation, suggesting that teens are more vulnerable to skin cancer because the cells in their body are dividing and changing at a faster rate compared to adults.
Every hour, one American dies of melanoma, and more than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed every year in over two million people in the United States, says the American Melanoma Foundation (AMF). The lack of awareness of sun safety has put people at risk for overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, a risk factor for developing skin cancer. When exposed to high UV levels, melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) is produced by the pituitary gland, which triggers the production of melanin, the natural pigment that gives a person their skin color and protects them from the sun.
In a study conducted at Brown University, researchers found that the production of melanin starts within a couple of hours of exposure to ultraviolet radiation of long wavelengths instead of a couple of days as previously thought by scientists. "As soon as you step out into the sun, your skin knows that it is exposed to UV radiation," said Elena Oancea, senior author of the study and assistant professor of biology in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology at Brown University, in a press release. Melanin protects the DNA in skin cells against the damage of UVB rays but it doesn't mean people should skimp on the sunscreen.
Overexposure to sunlight can cause physical changes on your skin such as wrinkles, freckles, age spots, and texture changes.
To avoid these effects and to achieve a safe sun-based tan, follow these four tips for a healthy summer glow.
1. Exfoliate Your Skin
To achieve the best possible tan outdoors, you must exfoliate before sun exposure. The act of exfoliation removes the dead cells from the uppermost layer of the skin and allows for fresh skin to appear. Removing the dead cells can even your skin tone, remove pore-clogging dirt and oil, and even prevent acne, says Discovery.com. You can scrub or buff away the dead skin cells by doing cost-effective physical scrubs like sugar, oatmeal, and salt with a loofah pad or exfoliating glove. The less build-up of dead skin cells, the more shallow your layer of skin will be, which will make your tan last longer. The removal of dead skin will also allow you to tan more easily because your tan will appear and fade evenly.
2. Wear A Sunscreen
Contrary to the beliefs of many tanning enthusiasts, you can still tan with sunscreen, and it's better that you do. In fact, sun protection factor (SPF) extends the time you can spend in the sun without suffering additional skin damage. Higher SPF numbers therefore provide better protection against ultraviolet B "burning rays" (UVB) rays, though not UVA protection, says the American Cancer Society (ACS). Sunscreens that are labeled "broad-spectrum" can provide protection against both UVB and UVA rays, but a standard system for measuring UVA ray protection has yet to exist.
Naturally fair skin has low amounts of melanin, which can leave the skin vulnerable to the sun's carcinogenic UV and cause lobster-red burns on your skin without an appropriate SPF. For those with darker skin, melanin can provide the equivalent of SPF 13.4 compared to 3.4 in white skin, says the Skin Cancer Foundation. However, those with dark skin can still get sunburnt.
The amount of sunscreen a person should apply is said to be 2 milligrams per square centimeter (mg/cm2) to the exposed skin under the sun, says the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For example, if a person is 5 ft. 4 in. (163 cm) and weighs 150 lb. (68 kg) with a 32 in. (82 cm) waist and is wearing a bathing suit covering the groin area, he or she should apply 29 g (approximately 1 oz) evenly to the uncovered body area to get the indicated SPF of his or her sunscreen product, says the FDA.
Remember to apply SPF 15 to 30 minutes before you go in the sun, reapply 15 to 30 minutes after you have been exposed to the sun, and only reapply if you have done any aquatic activity where your sunscreen could have been removed. In an article published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers discussed that the safest skin exposure to the sun results from early reapplication into the sun exposure period. In other words, the earlier you apply your sunscreen once you're exposed, the less damage UV rays will do to your skin.
3. Do NOT Overexpose Your Skin To The Sun
To get a healthy and glowing tan, do not overexpose your skin to UV rays. It is best to tan gradually by dividing your time under the sun evenly to reduce sunburn. Spending a whole day at the beach may give you a tan look for a day but it may very well leave you with sunburns when you leave. The best way to get a healthy summer glow is to tan in small doses. Half an hour to an hour under the sun a day will allow your body to produce adequate melanin to aid you the next time you tan.
It is important to choose wisely what time you decide to go for an outdoor sun-based tan. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says UV strength is greatest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during sunny summer days.
4. Wear Your Shades And A Hat
To achieve an even tan, remember your shades and hat. The skin around your eyes, including your eyes themselves, are delicate to UV rays. Failure to take proper care can result in the development of eye diseases like cataract, age-related macular degeneration, and eye cancers, says ACS. Sunglasses that are labeled "UV absorption up to 400 nm" or "Meets ANSI UV Requirements" mean the glasses block at least 99 percent of UV rays. Ideal glasses include those that are large-framed and wrap-around because they protect your eyes from the light that comes from different angles, says ACS. However, be mindful of falling asleep with your sunglasses, a la Kim Kardashian, who failed to achieve an even sun tan.
A hat with a two- to three-inch brim can protect your ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp all at once while you look stylish getting your tan. If big, wide hats do not suit you, opt for a shade cap, says ACS as these caps have seven inches of fabric that drape down the sides and back and can provide protection for your neck too. Although a baseball cap looks ideal, it only offers protection in the front and the top of the head, leaving the neck and ears vulnerable to sun exposure.
Lastly, remember to give your skin time to repair itself after a day out in the sun and before trekking outdoors again. These four tips will have you sporting healthy-looking and radiant skin.
It is that time of the year again. Warming kadha and soups are all set to give way for cooling sherbets topped with chilled ice cubes. I remember, how long back, one of my only household duties in summer would be to refill the ice trays so that we never run out of ice cubes. Come to think of it, it was indeed quite an important task at hand. It is tough to imagine summers without ice cubes. Be it the plain water ice cubes, or the fun ones made with fruits and herbs, ice cubes are one summer staple you would find across all households. But, did you know these little ice cubes are capable of much more than cooling your drinks. They could prove to be one of your best companions for summer skincare, too. They may help reduce pimples, sunburns, skin inflammation and boost blood circulation. Ice cubes with milk or cucumber can even exfoliate your skin. Surprised? Here's how you can use this versatile and inexpensive skin care remedy for all your beauty needs.
1. Shrink Pimple Or Acne
It may not be as fancy as the cosmetic packs that you use on your acne prone skin, but ice cubes could also prove to be rather effective, if given a chance. Acne is caused due to excess production of oil from the sebaceous glands leading to the blockage of hair follicles. Ice may not cure your skin of pimple completely but it can surely help to shrink or compress it in size. Ice helps cool down your inflamed skin that broke out into that nasty pimple. Make sure you consult your dermatologist before going ahead with the remedy. If your skin is sensitive the ice massage may aggravate the bacterial action.
How to use: Wash your face and dry it with the help of a towel. Take a clean paper towel and put some ice cubes in it. Put the towel exactly on top of the acne for about a minute. Repeat the process after five minutes. If you have been using any essential oil add a drop of it on the towel filled with ice cubes and repeat. Make sure you take ample breaks.
Come summers and the sun becomes one of your greatest enemies. Staying out in sun for long could lead to nasty sun burns and tan. Exposure to harmful UV rays could penetrate in your skin and may cause damage to skin cells, too. You can use aloe-vera juice or cucumber ice cubes to soothe the painful effect of sunburns. According to the book 'The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies' by Vasant Lad, aloe vera is often dubbed as the "burn plant," indicating that its natural properties can cure a sun burn. The leaves of the plant consist of anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce swelling and further calm skin irritation caused by the burn. Ice cubes made of plain water are not a bad pick either. Its cooling properties help in absorbing the heat from the skin, subsequently, soothing the sun burnt area. Applying the cool compress regularly is known to be very effective.
How to use: Make a cool compress using ice cubes. Wash your face and pat dry it with a towel. Place the towel with ice cubes on the affected area till the ice melts.
3. Exfoliate Skin
Ice cubes are also a reasonable remedy to exfoliate your skin. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells from the surface of the epidermis. You can make milk ice cubes for best results. In an ice tray, instead if water pour milk and freeze it. To each block you can also add blueberries and cucumber. Your milk ice cubes are ready. Apply these cubes on gently on your face. The lactic acid in the milk, scrubs away dead cells and give you an exfoliated skin. The antioxidants present in blueberries and cucumber would help give you a face lift.
How to use: Take a towel, add the milk cubes and give your skin a gentle press. Softly massage your skin with the ice cubes till the cubes melt. Wash your face with water after a good massage.
4. Reduce Oiliness Of Skin
Struggling with the woes of oily skin? Give cooling and refreshing ice cubes a chance. Application of ice cubes checks the oil secretion on the skin, giving you fresh and oil-free skin in a jiffy.
How to use: After washing your face, rub your face with ice cubes wrapped in paper towel, or any towel, made in thin fabric. Once the oiliness is reduced, you may need to apply a little moisturiser. To make it even more refreshing try using mint ice cubes. In an ice tray pour water and, in each block, put a mint leaf. Your mint cubes are ready.
5. Puffy Eyes
Been working extra hours? Has the exhaustion begun to take a toll on your eyes, too? Puffy eyes are perhaps one of the biggest curses of today's fast-paced urban lifestyle. Ice cubes are perhaps the most inexpensive and convenient quick fix for the same. According to beauty experts, on an inflamed skin, any kind of cool pack is an effective remedy. You can put ice cubes of water, milk or antioxidant rich green tea, and apply them around your puffed eyes. However, beware you don't put it around your eyes for too long. Using chilled ice, right out of the fridge may not be the best idea for delicate skin, it may stick to the skin and cause pain.
How to use: Wash your face and dry it with towel. Now, wrap the ice cubes in a paper towel and gently press the cubes on your eyes for short periods. Continue the process for about 10 minutes, then dry your face with towel. Get ready for a fresh look on your face.
So, what are you waiting for? Pull out your ice trays, freeze some quick cubes and use it for your skin this summer.