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Natural Ways to Prevent Sunburn

With Memorial Day past, its a good time to start looking at natural ways that you can keep from looking like a Steamed Lobster this summer season.

 

The summer season is officially upon us and so the topic of suntans and sunburns are back in the news. The recent saga of the Patricia Krentcil, the now-infamous "Tanning Mom" of New Jersey, only further serves to emphasize the importance of protecting our skin while trying to find a healthy balance as we look to achieve that "summer glow". 

Lets face it, nothing ruins a vacation faster than sunburn- and that goes double for those with fair skin. Conventional wisdom has always been to use gobs of sunscreen to protect us from those harmful UV rays. However, recent studies have shown that nearly half of the most popular sunscreens may actually be increasing the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer. 

So- what should we do? And is the sun really something dangerous to be feared at all costs? Well- the truth is that moderate sun exposure is really necessary for optimal health. Since our bodies need essential Vitamin D production which occurs from natural sunlight, one could argue that screening can be counterproductive.

Here are some  prudent suggestions that will keep you from burning on your next trip to the beach:

-          Limit your sun exposure during peak hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest.

-          Use floppy hats and umbrellas as ways of staying out of direct sun rays while still allowing for the benefits of indirect sunlight.

-          Don’t lie in the sun purposely seeking a tan- especially early in the season when you are most susceptible to sunburn. Instead try to build up your tolerance with short sun exposures increased gradually over time.

-          If you do get sunburn, aloe vera gel is an extremely soothing and non-toxic solution. Buy it in tubes or tubs and generously coat your sunburn.

-         Drinking tea, especially green tea, offers a complex arsenal of antioxidant compounds. How it works and what’s doing it isn’t fully understood, but it’s generally accepted that drinking green tea is a smart move and a mainstay of many healthy traditional cultures. Unsurprisingly, there’s also evidence that dietary green tea, specifically its polyphenols, may inhibit the development of skin tumors by controlling inflammation and preventing DNA damage.

-   There is one more way of perhaps preventing sunburn internally. Recent studies have suggested that Astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, is a naturally occurring skin protector that can minimize the damage caused by the sun's rays. But how does this antioxidant prevent sunburn, specifically? The sun's rays damage the skin through free radicals, which are also responsible for causing premature signs of aging and some cancers. Counteracting the activities of free radicals with antioxidants is important in preventing damage, such as sunburn, and astaxanthin is one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body. So for anyone that is looking for natural protection against sunburns, astaxanthin may be a great alternative to the chemical-laden products that are sold in many stores.

In closing, moderation is always the key.  Here's to  enjoying a sunny summer filled with health and fun without ending up looking like a cooked lobster fresh out of your steamer pot.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

MetsRgoing Alltheway June 19, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Dr. Mike/Gil: what do you think of the tan through swimwear available now? Do you think it is a safer way of tanning? tanthrough.com Being hispanic, I have an all year tan, and I never needed to put sunscreen on because I just go darker, but never burned. Now that I know the damaging effects the sun has, I steer away from the sun, putting sunblock and renting the umbrella at the beach. So I was wondering about these new swimsuits available. Won't they cause the same damage, only now its throughout your entire body? NF
MetsRgoing Alltheway June 19, 2012 at 12:20 AM
I find this blog to be interesting and informative..however, I don't understand what all they hype is about the ladies tan...I look like that all year without sunbathing!)
Dr. Michael Cocilovo June 19, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Great question! The Tan Through swimwear is getting very popular because it allows about 80% of the sun's rays through to reduce those unwanted "tan lines". The concern is that these suits will contribute to careless behavior in the sun- such as leaving sensitive areas that are not used to the sun exposed for too long. As long as you maintain proper precautions such as limiting your exposure time and applying sunscreen to ALL areas, then you should be fine. The problem could be remembering to re-apply sunscreen to those areas under your suit while you are on the beach. It may be inconvenient as well as Awkward!! So be careful and enjoy the sun Safely:) Dr. Mike
MetsRgoing Alltheway June 21, 2012 at 08:22 PM
How do I know which sunscreen to buy? There are so many brands, some claim to be for sports, others for swimming...spf 30, spf50? I bought a waterproof one for my son and after I applied it, he looked like he had elmurs glue on and it never came off. It can get quite confusing! Any tips on buying the right sunscreens?
Dr. Michael Cocilovo June 22, 2012 at 05:00 PM
You should never use a sunscreen with less than a 30 spf, and fair skinned or first time sunbathers should actually be using a 50 spf to guard against burning. And a Waterproof/Sports sunscreen is recommended as it will have a tendency to resist coming off with sweat or water. However, remember to always re-apply any sunscreen every 3-4 hours regardless of the brand. Hope this helps!!
MetsRgoing Alltheway June 22, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Yes both responses were quite helpful thank you very much!

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