With summer in full swing it’s time refresh yourself with some SPF knowledge. We’ve all had sunburns – from mild to blistering, and they’re not fun. We all need to be aware of protecting our skin when we’re outside during this vulnerable time of year. Children especially need to be protected from the sun’s burning rays, since most sun damage occurs in early adolescence.
Well, you don’t need to go to medical school to diagnose this one. Sunburns will leave the skin red, warm, and painful. In more severe cases they can cause blistering, fever, chills, headache, and nausea.
The first step is protecting yourself (and any children) before you leave the house – but don’t be fooled by cloudier days. A common misconception is assuming the sun is only dangerous when it’s shining brightly. The fact is that you and your kids may actually be exposed to more ultraviolet rays on foggy or hazy days because you’ll stay outside longer due to the mild temperatures in comparison to sweltering, bright days. Be sure to take the following steps to protect your, and your children’s skin.
- Make a habit to use sunscreen to block the damaging ultraviolet rays. For kids, choose a sunscreen made for children with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Apply the protection 15 to 30 minutes before going out. Keep in mind that no sunscreens are truly waterproof and need to be reapplied every one and a half to two hours, particularly if your child spends a lot of time in the water.
- Try to dress in lightweight cotton clothing. Long sleeves and long pants, if possible.
- Use a beach umbrella or similar object to stay in the shade as much as possible.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim.
- Babies under six months should be kept out of direct sunlight. If adequate clothing and shading are not available, sunscreen may be used on small areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands – but check the label first for anything that may irritate baby’s skin.
- Try to stay out of direct sunlight for extended periods during the peak ultraviolet concentration hours (between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.).
- Exposure and risk of sunburns is greater at higher altitudes – take extra precautions.
Home Remedies (that actually work)
Everyone has their own “proven” solution to sunburns. Some are smelly, others are itchy – and some just don’t work. Here are a few of our “proven” remedies to keep in mind next time your sunburned.
- Shaving cream: Strange as it sounds, many shaving creams contain menthol and other chemicals that are naturally cooling to the skin. The menthol also evaporates quickly and takes a portion of the heat from the sunburn with it.
- Apple cider vinegar: Similar to the shaving cream, the apple cider vinegar evaporates quickly and acts as an antiseptic. It’s likely that vinegar can also balance the body’s pH levels, in turn relieving the sting. Draw a bath, add the vinegar generously, and ease in to the pungent elixir.
- Baking soda: While we couldn’t find any studies to back it up, many home remedy gurus swear by this one. It’s probably because baking soda creates an alkalized environment that is very soothing for the skin. It’s recommended to mix the soda with water and then apply the solution to the affected area with a cotton ball.
- Milk: A cool swath of milk across a sunburn is rumored to relieve pain, itching, and burning – but again, no studies back this up. Just anecdotal evidence.
- Oatmeal: Applying an oatmeal compress is one of the most widely known, and effective home remedies for sunburns. Oat extract has been shown in studies to contain anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve the burn and sting. It’s recommended to create the compress (oatmeal and water) and then let it freeze slightly before applying to skin. It can be heaven for a rough burn.