Health & Safety, Travel Tips

A traveler’s guide to dealing with sunburns

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If you’ve been waiting all winter long for the summer to come, there’s a big chance you’re going to be a little too careless or neglectful due to your impatience and excitement for the trip of the year that you’re about to have. And while we’re really proud of all our fellow travelers whose hearts are filled with wanderlust, we’re also very considerate about some of the safety measures that you shouldn’t be ignoring wherever you’re going this summer, if this destinations of yours is truly hot. So there are some of the things that should help you focus on having fun instead of on being ill, but you should take into consideration that preventing is the best possible solution.

Treatment stage

If, by any chance, you’ve read the upper part of this article while sunbathing during full noon time, preventing is not the only way of dealing with sunburns.

Some of the most efficient and, at the same time, intuitive remedies include: a cold, damp towel on the affected portions of the skin, using a moisturizer that contains aloe vera (it was found to help soothe sunburned skin), if you’re not feeling well you may also take an ibuprofen/tylenol/paracetamol. Drinking extra water also helps regenerating the burnt skin tissue, as well as hydrating your body while you’re sick.

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Some less intuitive advice is: leave the blisters alone! Yes, they’re gross and they’re on you’re skin and you want to look perfect. All these are less important than curing faster. Acting quickly also helps curing faster – as soon as you feel or see any sign of skin reddening, you should do at least the above mentioned processes. If it so happens that the sunburn covers more than 20 per cent of the body, don’t stop at ibuprofen. Search for medical attention, wherever you are. Most of the beaches have nearby hospital emergency sections, opened nonstop during the summer, in case some season-related cases occur.

Prevention is the best treatment

And while we agree that this may sound like a cliché, there are lots of ways to limit the possible situations that could make you go through sunburns, some of which you should already do instinctively, such as: avoiding exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., covering up, using sunscreen generously and frequently, wearing sunglasses (exposure to sun may also be harmful for the eyes, especially for those who are already suffering of phototonus). The basic rule here is: if your eyes think it hurts them, it most certainly can hurt your skin as well. Covering up, for instance, doesn’t have to mean going on the beach with an overcoat from your grandmother who can still remember the cold, bitter snows. On the contrary, you’ll have quite a summery look: umbrellas as well as floppy hats aren’t only fancy, but very useful as well.

Another thing you should know is that a base ten is not enough for your protection – having a little extra pigment won’t guarantee you a happy holiday and creole people should be taking the advice into consideration as much as the perfectly white-skinned. Sunburns don’t choose, and even if they did, the difference would be insignificant when your exposure lasts longer than a few minutes.

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And even if this article’s mostly about sunburns, skin cancer is one of the diseases you should be easily avoiding by following some easy steps. The SPF you’re using should always be +45. Don’t be stingy, use it on all the exposed areas. Another thing to remember is that you should use the sunscreen repeatedly, especially if you’re going to the seaside – whenever you get out of the water another layer of sunscreen is just welcome if you care for your skin health. All of your body places, even the back of your knees and the back of your ears should be taken care of. The hard-to-reach argument is invalid for whatever skin affections there are.

Unfortunately, as much as we know you love tanned skin, sitting in the sun just because you’re looking for a good tan to go home with is wrong. And if you’re really that desperate to do it, afternoon is the best time, or even the early morning. However, don’t forget that the best place for tanning isn’t even the seaside, despite all the trends, but the mountains – this is where, during summer, you’ll get the most persistent tan to be proud with during winter.

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Since we’re talking about sunscreen, as weird as it may sound, a small amount of it should go on your scalp, especially during long exposures. You may not have the classiest look of your life with it, but at least your scalp isn’t going to be dealing with sunburns. Again, sunburning your scalp may even affect your hair and cause massive hair loss if you’re not paying attention.

Natural remedies

If you want to try some natural alternatives for this issue, you should know that there are plenty of possibilities at your disposal.

 Eat as many tomatoes, if possible at every meal! Lycopene is the carotenoid that you’ll find in tomatoes, and it’s been shown to protect people from sun damage, according to the latest study. The research was made on healthy women, from 21 to 47. It suggested that 55 g of tomato paste, containing 16 mg of lycopene significantly helps against acute and even long term sun damage. The subjects ate the paste for 12 weeks, so if you’re hurrying to to on your holiday it’s a little late to try it now.

 Have fun drinking for your skin health! Astaxanthin is also very healthy, and it is found in algae. Some organisms get to eat it, and when they get eaten by other organisms in their turn, the properties of the substance persists. Some of the organisms eating it are salmon, shrimp or pink flamingo. There were several studies made about this substance, two of them were on isolated skin cells and showed that it does protect against UV damage. It also does have protective effects. Another one, on hairless mice, showed that the substance may offer protection against UVA. It does look promising and if you’re into pink flamingo thighs, it’s not even that bad if it doesn’t work at all.

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The classic Vitamin D is another natural preventing method. And while until recently it was associated with the kind of empirical remedy your grandparents told you about during your endless summer holidays, a new study does confirm its positive effects on the skin related to sun exposure.

Green tea is, as much as you wouldn’t believe it, not just something you’ll drink in the morning as a refreshment. The antioxidant in it was found to inhibit the skin tumors from a pre-developing stage as well as assure photoprotection, reducing the photochemical damage to the skin.

Another healthy suggestion you may like just for the sake of it is consuming proanthocyanidins. Wine, grape seeds, blueberries or hazelnuts, they all have in common the richness in this substance. Since recently, we were only consuming these because of our hedonistic nature. But a recent study on hairless rodents  suggested that it can prevent photocarcinogenesis. In other words, it’s been found to reduce UV damage.

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Medical insurance

Baby steps – when you’re thinking of preventing sunburns, even the most basic things should be enough. If you remember to do them, that is. Don’t forget to check whether your health insurance is available where you’re going, and if it’s not – do something about it before leaving home. Especially if this is a family trip or you’re traveling with your baby / the significant other, you should know that women and children have a more sensitive skin. Of course, we’re not trying to say that you should stay on the beach all day long while they’re locked inside the ho(s)tel room. What we’re aiming for is organizing your things by priority – and be sure that health insurance should be one of your biggest concerns before leaving home for the summer holiday.

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