Ahhh, Memorial Day is generally seen as the start of Summer Break & Vacations. For many that means plenty of hiking, kayaking, cycling, tubing down the river, going to the beach, visiting new places, and lots of travel. This also generally means a lot of sunburns which to put it mildly – generally hurt like hell. In that vein & with a gentle nudge from the “Don’t Fry Day” let’s take a look at ways you can prevent that dreaded burn and helping one heal up as quickly as possible.
- Clothing: Generally, wearing lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing is your best option to prevent burning.
- Hat: Wearing a wide brimmed hat is a great way to keep the sun from burning your ears, neck & face.
- Sunglasses: The skin is not the only thing one needs to protect – your eyes also require it, so choose a pair that blocks UV Rays. This is especially important if you are on the water, on top of a glacier, a nice white sandy beach, or other areas with lots of reflected light.
- Please be careful if you wear regular prescription glasses as I have seen them act as a magnifying glass and severely burning areas around the eyes. I would recommend buying a pair of prescription sun glasses or covers that block the UV rays. While a hat can help, it will not block the UV rays – especially reflected rays.
- Sunscreen: make sure you cover any exposed skin with sunscreen (don’t forget the ears or back of the neck). While on vacation you will generally always be on the move so a good sports version is a good choice. I generally prefer the NO-AD sports sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher.
- Don’t forget to reapply it as necessary – the one reason I prefer a sports version is it allows sweat to pass through without it washing away the protection
- Staying cool will also extend the life of most sunscreens, so seek shady area’s where possible
- Lip Balm: This is one of the most overlooked items – you should wear some with a UV blocker in it. I used to prefer using one from Banana Republic, but I can’t find it out here so I unfortunately can’t tell you the name.
- Know your risks: the issue is not the son, it is the UV rays so if you know the UV index number for the day, it can help you plan accordingly. There’s even an app for that – courtesy of the EPA.
Unfortunately, once you get burnt, the damage is done so prevention really is the best treatment. If that fails (yes I have been there, done that, and hated putting that T-Shirt on); the catch now is letting it heal, being able to move, sleep, and not make matters worse.
- I have to admit it; while I have heard of plenty of homemade remedies (nice list at the bottom of this Health 911 article) I generally go for commercially available products that contain Vitamin E & Aloe to help replace the moisture lost.
- Be careful of applying any of these if you have any blisters, or open sores.
- Depending on the burn, you might just apply a moisturizer formula only, or you may look for a product that also contains hydrocortisone or something similar for the inflammation & pain
- Speaking of blisters, resist the urge to scratch or break them, you will just be delaying your bodies healing reaction. Personally if you have blisters, you should be going to see your doctor.
- While a cold shower sounds great, you should take one that is mildly warm – something with how the body reacts.
- Drink plenty of water, your body needs to replace the amounts lost
- Taking an Aspirin (adults only) or Ibuprofen is a good way to help reduce the pain & any swelling
- Don’t pick at the peeling skin, let it fall off naturally – I know that is easier said than done – while this is happening you should continue to apply moisturizer to your skin