Sunburn and Sunscreen
Kimberly was eight years old and in a summer day camp. The schedule stated that the children would go to the indoor pool, so she took along her swim suit and towel. But the children went to the beach instead. Kimberly, who was extremely fair, went home with a blistering sunburn. After a cooling baking soda bath, the burn was treated with pure aloe vera gel. This provided immediate soothing and healing effects. After two days, most of the redness had disappeared.
Aloe has long been used to treat burns of all kinds, and is extremely effective in healing sunburn. It is antibacterial and contains aloectinB, which stimulates the immune system. The pure gel available in most health food stores is most effective. Lanoline should be avoided because it can make the burn more uncomfortable, holding in the heat. Many aloe lotions contain lanolin.
Baking soda baths (lukewarm water with ½ cup of baking soda) are soothing for sunburn.
Increasing intake of Vitamin C will also aid in the healing process. The sunburn patient should drink plenty of fluids to avoid fever and promote healing.
If the burn remains uncomfortable, a cloth soaked in cool black tea may help soothe it. Plain cool compresses also help, but the tannin from tea gives added comfort.
A paste made from equal parts barley, tumeric, and plain full fat yogurt, blended until smooth and applied to the skin may also help soothe and heal the burn. It should be left on until it becomes warm, and then rinsed off.
A child should be watched carefully. If she develops a fever or the burn seems very serious, a doctor should be consulted for prescription medication.
Sunburn should be avoided if at all possible, due to the lasting damage that it can cause. Most sunscreens do protect from UVB which causes sunburn; however, many do not protect adequately from UVA which causes the more serious damage, including skin cancer. FDA has approved four strong UVA filters; avobenzene, Mexoryl, titanium dioxide, and zinc. A sunscreen should contain one of these ingredients.
Sunscreens that contain oxybenzone should be avoided, since it is a hormone disruptor that absorbs easily through the skin. In addition, many products break down too quickly in sunlight and become ineffective.
Environmental Working Group has a website that reports on a thorough study of sunscreens available in the US, and provides a list of 66 recommended products. It is an invaluable tool to determine whether a sunscreen is safe and effective. Go to www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/special/sunscreens/summary.php.
Also at this site is a list of sun safety tips that all parents need to take into account. It includes age appropriate levels of sun exposure. Infants are especially vulnerable to sun damage, since their skin is not yet protected by melanin, and should be shielded from sun exposure. Children and teens need to be protected with a good sunscreen, reapplied as needed.