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How to treat sunburnt skin?

Posted by Shantelle Quarrell - Dermal Clinician on

Wow. Soaking up the sun in Fiji was a perfect way to start 2017. If you have never visited before, do yourself a favor and spend some time experiencing the friendly Fijian hospitality. My second visit and certainly not my last!

Unfortunately, the beautiful tropical climate brings with it intense UV radiation. During the final day of my stay, I began accessing the damage to my skin and that of the other resort patrons…ouch!

How sun protections works

The guidelines of sun protection have not changed since the introduction of SPF50. They most commonly work by the chemical ingredients absorbing ultra violet radiation. These chemicals predominately work on UVB radiation, the ultra violet radiation, that causes burning.

We also need protection to filter out the UVA radiation, which is the radiation that stimulates the physical ageing. Fortunately, there is another form of sun protection and that provides a physical barrier via zinc or titanium dioxide ingredients. They work to refract both UVA and UVB radiation. The SPF (Sun protection factor) rating of a product indicates how long you can stay in the sun without getting burned while wearing that sunscreen.

For example, if it takes you 10 minutes to burn without sun protection then SPF 20 should give you 200 minutes (from initial correct application) before burning is likely to occur. For the product to be most effective, it should be broad spectrum meaning it filters both UVA and UVB.


After sun care

So you've spent too much time in the sun...what do you do with that red inflamed skin? I love it when my husband buys the cheapest aloe soothing gel from the supermarket. If you have ever put aloe directly from the plant on the skin it is a clear, non-coloured gel. I am alarmed when I find bright blue and green aloe vera products in my bathroom cupboard! If you look at the ingredients, yet again and it’s second primary ingredient is alcohol. Not sure how you feel about putting alcohol on hot inflamed skin, but I most certainly don’t recommend it.

In Fiji I discovered the ‘Pure Fijian dilo rescue body gel’. I found it very soothing immediately after the excessive sun exposure. The gel helped repair the skin with nurturing dilo and aloe vera balm to calm, rehydrate and replenish the skin.


Photo damage skin

Photo ageing is defined as ageing directly caused from over exposure to UV rays from the sun or solarium. Most pigment issues are directly related to the sun over exposure.

Ultra violet radiation causes the breakdown of collagen and elastin, triggers the development of wrinkles, skin laxity, roughness, dilated blood vessels, rough precancerous spots and skin cancers.

Antioxidants for skin protection

Antioxidants can protect the skin from ROS (reactive oxidative stress) commonly referred to as free radical damage. The skin is damaged from UV, visible light and Infra-Red, which cause a trauma in our DNA. Sunburn also depletes the receptors we have built up with vitamin A and oxidises vitamin C.

It is essential to replenish the skin topically with essential vitamins of A, C & E. As ingesting vitamins takes 4 - 5 days to reach the skin, topical application is recommended. It provides immediate replenishment. One of the best is Environ C-Boost, a clarifying cream that contains the most stable form of vitamin C. Its formulated to help improve the appearance of hyper pigmented and sun damaged skin. Another amazing fact is topical use of vitamin A can act as a natural sun protection. Perfect for day to day exposure. But not if you’re planning on spending the day at the beach.

Barrier Repair

What is barrier function? Skin is covered with a hydrolipidic film of oil and water that provides protection, by reducing water loss and inhibiting harmful bacteria.

Sunburn can increase the risk of water loss resulting in damaged dry skin. After the redness has disappeared from the sunburn, it is time to replace your barrier protection. My recommendation is using an oil product after your shower. The Environ A, C & E oil is the perfect product to replace essential topical vitamins and antioxidants on sun damaged skins.


Before and After

This is an extreme case of sun damage the before image shows basal and squamous cell carcinomas on the face.

With this patients commitment to the topical application of "Environ's skincare" topical vitamin A, you can see a vast improvement in the skin health.


image courtesy of Environ skin care

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