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Soothe sunburned skin

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Dear Delialah,

What can I do to treat a sunburn? I searched for some kind of natural soothing lotion and everything I found was full of chemicals, some even had urea as an ingredient. Any suggestions for natural products or home remedies? Thanks.

Chelsea Witherstone, Huntersvlle

Dear Chelsea,

Let's start with sunburn 101.

Sun block applied to face and body...check. Lip balm with SPF applied...check. Wide brimmed hat to offer additional face protection...check. Sunglasses to shield the eyes from UV damage..check. Staying out of the sun between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm when the UV rays are the strongest...check. Yet here you are, sitting at home with fiery skin that is red and inflamed. Even when all precautionary measures are in place, many people still fall victim to the sun's wrath. It is important to understand that a sunburn penetrates below the top layer of the skin and will continue to burn underneath the surface even after you are no longer in the sun.

The first step in treating sunburn is to cool the affected area. Start by taking a cool shower or bath. Blot yourself dry with a towel. Refrain from rubbing sunburned skin with a towel as it will only agitate the burn. Mist your skin with a homemade cooling solution of cucumber-infused water. Once you have cooled the skin, there are several steps you can take to bring pain relief and aid in the healing process.

Hydration is key after spending too much time in the sun. Drinking lots of water will help to re-hydrate the skin, which becomes dried from all the fluid loss that accompanies too much time in the sun.

Steep several tea bags in a pot of boling water for 20 minutes. Add some ice cubes to cool the tea down to slightly warmer than room temperature. Place a cotton towel in the pot and leave it there until it absorbs most of the tea. Place the towel on sunburned skin and leave it in place for up to 30 minutes. Tea contains antioxidants and tannic acid that will help draw the heat out of the body as well as soothe the skin. For sunburns around the eyes, place cool steeped teabags directly over the eyes and leave in place for 15 minutes.

Lavender essential oil contains healing properties that are very effective in treating suburn. It helps speed the healing process, alleviates pain and can prevent scars from blistering skin. Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil to 1/2 cup of cool water and apply to skin.

Milk or plain yogurt can be applied to the skin to soothe the initail burn. They will form a protein layer on the skin that will help alleviate discomfort. Apply cool, not cold, to the skin with a clean cotton cloth or piece of gauze.

Colloidal oatmeal will not only help alleviate pain and soothe the skin, but it will help treat itchiness that can accompany a sunburn. Natural colloidal oatmeal baths are available at most drug stores and natural health stores.

White vinegar can help stop the sting of sunburn, but only when used in the first 24 hours of sun exposure. For initial treatment, apply undiluted vinegar directly to the affected area with a spray bottle and allow it to air dry. Rinse off with a cool shower one hour later. This should be repeated every 4 hours during the initial 24 hour period.

email Delialah at dfalconsch@hotmail.com with your alternative health questions

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