With summer coming into full swing, many of us are ready to head to the lake, pitch the tent, or just spend some time basking in a lounge chair. But before you take off for some fun in the sun, here are some tips that may help protect your skin.
The sun actually emits three types of ultraviolet rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC is harmless, as it supposedly never reaches the earth. UVB and UVA can alter DNA and share in the production of free radicals, which causes premature aging of skin over time, and may lead to skin cancer. UVB attacks the skin's ouer layers, while UVA penetrates deeper into the skin and can cause damage to underlying skin layers.
Excessive exposure to UV rays is what causes sunburns. Most sunburns are first degree burns with the symtoms of red, warm, tender skin. Depending on your skin type and severity of your burn, it may develop into a tan or your skin may start peeling in an effort to rid dead skin cells. Severe reddening, swelling, pain, and blisters may result from a second-degree sunburn and is indicative of damage to and release of fluids from deeper layers of skin. Breaks in the skin may result and can become infected.
The greatest point of protection against damage is supposedly sunscreen or sunblock, but there is a controversy over the use of sun protection. The primary difference between sunscreens and sunblocks is that sunscreens use chemical "absorbers" that absorb into your skin and cause a chemical reaction between the sunscreen ingredients and UV rays, while a sunblock uses minerals that lay on the surface of skin. Both are designed to protect one from most of the effects of the sun. The chemical sunscreens, besides the fact that they sink into the skin, may also cause hormone disruption, allergic reactions, bioaccumulation in tissues, and failure to biodegrade in the environment. For these reasons, I would suggest using an all natural sunblock.
Look for a sunblock that:
Does not contain oxybenzone
Guards against UVA and UVB rays. Look for "broad spectrum" coverage, and zinc oxide as an ingredient.
Has natural antioxidants such as Vitamin E or Green Tea
Has an SPF of 15-30 or higher.
Some other tips to protect your skin:
Stay out of midday sun, between the hours of 10 and 4
Wear a hat width at least a 4-inch brim
Wear sunglasses with UV protection
Wear loose-fitting, tightly-woven clothing that covers arms and legs
Take a daily Vitamin C supplement
If you do get a sunburn, try these tips to ease discomfort and promote healing:
Use an aloe vera gel with added Vitamin E. The aloe vera contains salicylic acid, which is found in aspirin, and polysaccharides, which promotes cell rejuvenation. Aloe vera contains naturally-occurring Vitamin E, but adding extra may help moisturize and heal skin even more and balance aloe's slightly astringent effect. However, if you suspect second-degree burns, seek medical help and do not use aloe unless directed by a doctor.
Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration
Wear protective clothing over a sunburn while it heals.
Use a colloidal silver gel to help prevent bacterial infection and soothe sunburns.
Place a cool, damp cloth on burns for 10-15 minutes a few times per day to cool skin and relieve pain.
I hope this article has been of help to you, and I wish you all an enjoyable and safe summer!
~ April Barnhart
American Academy of Dermatology
Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC