Few things hurt like a burn. One of the worst things about a burn is the pain can seem almost constant, only to become sharp and pronounced whenever it’s exposed to more heat.
Some burns also wear you out. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed how tired you feel when you’re sunburned. It’s a real drain on your energy. Burns can have long-term consequences, too. If you don’t treat them properly they can lead to scarring. Sunburns lead to cellular damage that can increase your chances of skin cancer later on.
I’ve noticed in my own practice that most people don’t seek a doctor’s help for minor burns. For the most part, minor burns are something you can treat on your own. With summer just around the corner, the incidence of burns is about to rise. Whether you spend too much time in the sun or get a smaller burn from a barbeque or a campfire, it’s important to know how to respond. Proper care can relieve the pain and discomfort. It can also reduce scarring and long-term damage to your skin.
The Best Care for Sunburns
The most common minor burn is a sunburn. Sunburns doesn’t pose an immediate threat, but it can have serious consequences for your long-term health, especially if you allow yourself to burn often.
Before I get into the best way to treat a sunburn and reduce the long-term damage it does, I want to emphasize the importance of prevention. Sunburn prevention is important to the long-term health of your skin. By avoiding sunburns you’ll reduce your chances of developing skin cancer later on. You’ll also keep your skin from aging prematurely.
The best way to prevent sunburn is to be smart about your sun exposure. The sun’s rays are most intense between 10am and 4pm. If you plan to be out in the sun for more than 20 minutes during this period, use sunscreen. If you’re going to be outside for more than two hours, take your sunscreen with you and reapply it every 90 minutes.
If you do get a sunburn, there are two things you should do. First, slather on some aloe vera gel. Research shows that aloe vera helps minor burns to heal better. Aloe vera has anti-mutagenic effects that help your skin to repair damage done to cells. This function can help prevent the formation of cancerous cells. Look for the highest purity aloe vera gel you can find. Choose one that does not contain alcohol because alcohol can dry the skin, contributing to your discomfort, and countering the good effects of the aloe.
The second thing to do is take vitamin C and find a topical skin cream that contains vitamin C. Your body uses vitamin C to build collagen, the supporting structure for your skin. A sunburn can damage your collagen, prematurely aging your skin. By taking vitamin C internally and using it topically, you can rebuild your collagen and repair sunburn damage.
How to Treat a Burn Injury
With summer barbeques and many outdoor activities there’s always a higher chance of getting a minor burn injury. Minor burns are local surface burns. They hurt like heck, but they aren’t serious. A minor burn will turn red and will swell a little bit. It may blister, but blistering should be minimal.
If you get a minor burn, the best thing to do is run cool water over it until the pain subsides. After running cool water over the burn, wrap it lightly in gauze or use a second skin burn pad to cover it. I prefer the second skin burn pads. In my own practice, I’ve found that they provide better pain relief to and speedier healing.
If a burn is more severe—if the skin turns deep red and blisters—or if the burn is over a wide area of skin, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention. Larger or more severe burns are more prone to infection and complications. A doctor’s advice can help you heal better without scarring and avoid infections.
With summer time nearly upon us, knowing how to respond to a burn if it happens can keep you and your family safe during this time of the year.