Summertime is full of outdoor activities. Chances are, you will find yourself out in the sun. No matter how hard you try, you probably won’t apply enough sunblock. You know you are supposed to, but you get busy. You fall asleep. You swim. You eat. We get it. Sunblock isn’t always on the top of your priority list. Well, without that constant protection, getting a sunburn is inevitable (kind of like grabbing a Cinnabon at the airport)! Typically, you will end up with a first degree burn. They are painful, but not life threatening. All of your treatment for a typical sunburn will be aimed at cooling the burn down and getting some pain relief. So, what can you do?
The #1 thing you need to do is to cool off the burn. Taking a cold shower for about 20-minutes will be helpful, but it’s not a long term solution, and not everybody has access to an immediate shower. Most people have aloe hiding in their medicine cabinet and that is a good choice, too. It will cool off the burn and, if it is infused with lidocaine, may offer some pain relief. Another pain relief option is to take “over the counter” Tylenol (Acetaminophen) as directed on the packaging. You can’t stay in the shower or bath all day, and what if you don’t have aloe? Here are a couple of things that can help heal your skin.
There has long been a debate about egg-whites. Egg whites are made mostly of water (90%) and proteins (10%), and if the eggs are refrigerated, they will cool the area. It is important to remember to NEVER use egg whites on 2nd or 3rd degree burns. There is a potential for infection (salmonella, although the National Safety Council states that the risk is very small, and other bacteria that may get trapped in egg white covering), so you don’t want to use egg whites on any broken skin. This treatment isn’t without controversy. We know plenty of people who swear by the egg white remedy, saying is relieves pain and redness quicker than any other treatment. The flip-side of that argument is that egg whites can also “trap in” the heat of the burn and draw out moisture which can make the situation worse. Personally, we see no harm in trying out this home remedy on 1st degree burns (meaning no blistering or broken skin), but we would pass on putting egg whites on 2nd or 3rd degree burns. If you choose to use them, crack open the eggs and separate the egg whites from the egg yolk. Place the egg whites on the burn and leave them there for 20-minutes. We recommend washing them off after the 20-minute mark with cool water.
Another home remedy is raw honey. Yes, that good ole’ bee vomit can be used to treat a ton of things like burns, peptic ulcers, gastroenteritis, and infections. Honey has a “slow-release” antiseptic effect that does not harm healthy tissue. Honey has anti-microbial properties that can be used on open wounds, so it is safe to use honey to treat even 2nd and 3rd degree burns. Studies have shown that honey can reduce pain and scarring. It even stimulates new, healthy skin, to grow. We haven’t heard of the redness of a sunburn fading as quickly from honey as it does with egg-whites, but raw honey has amazing healing potential. It is now used in hospitals to treat burns, wounds and even ulcers. If you decide to use honey, make sure it is raw and not the typical processed honey you find on most shelves. You want active, organic healing to take place and that won’t happen if the honey is overly processed.
So, there you have it. You can treat your sunburn with stuff you have right in your own pantry or refrigerator! Who knew? Next time you spend a little extra time in the sun, head to the kitchen instead of the medicine cabinet. Chances are you will be happier with the results, and you can grab yourself a snack while you are there. Bon Appétit!