It’s a beautiful feeling when the sun bathes you with its light when you are lounging on the beach…especially when the surf’s up. And there’s no dearth of such glorious sunshine in the region. While it’s a fun way of loading up on your Vitamin D, the UV rays could mean trouble.

Getting that gorgeous bronze look is fine. But just don’t stay out in the sun for too long. You don’t want the suntan to turn into sunburn. Not only does it make you look red, it is, as some of you may have experienced, very distressing. That all-day stinging sensation can take the joy out of you. So if you’re planning a day out at the beach or anywhere outdoors, you’d better put on a generous amount of sunblock with a SPF of 40 or above, at least 15 minutes before you step out into the sun. Apply it without discrimination to all parts of your face; ensure your cheeks, nose bridge, forehead and upper lip are carefully covered.

What is sunburn?

It is a condition caused by a direct photochemical reaction at the cellular level causing the skin to break up and create a collection of cellular fluids, which in turn lead to blistering. In English, it means that too much sun for too long can burn you real bad, and leave you stinging all day long! It can leave you dehydrated, weak with permanent discoloration and scars.

But, if by chance, you’re unfortunate enough to be sunburnt already, here are a few simple tips that’ll make you feel better. Of course, the smile will take a little longer to return. Nevertheless, your discomfort will be reduced to a great extent.

First and foremost dampen a towel and run it over your body for 10 to 15 minutes every hour till your body cools down, and complement it with frequent cold-water baths, which will help ease the pain. And if the pain is unbearable, a paracetamol tablet twice or thrice a day will do you a world of good. Besides, it’ll also reduce any swelling you may have.

Drink at least 2 litres of water a day as your ‘sunny’ experience may have dried you up from within. Keeping your body hydrated will help your skin recover faster. In fact, we suggest it’s the first thing you do after coming in from the sun.

What sunburnt skin needs most is to be soothed, for which we suggest applying a moisturizer lotion that contains Aloe Vera or Soy. And use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to calm any persistent redness. But at all costs avoid any creams with petrolatum and benzocaine as they will trap the heat in your body and will further irritate your already aggravated skin. And leave all blisters alone. Don’t touch them! Don’t apply any cream because, as painful as they may be, blisters actually act as a membrane and protect skin below, which facilitates a quicker healing process. Hey, you never know, the healing process could happen at what they call a blistering pace!

Sunburns can be so bad that even the softest silk can feel like coarse wool. Really, almost all kinds of material will feel like they have little blades between the weaves. So we should thank the soul who invented cotton! You can waddle about with something as soft and pure as this natural material. What’s more, just like those blisters, it’ll actually assist the healing process.

If nothing seems to help and you begin to feel dizzy, weak, and feverish with some stomach discomfort, you’ll have to see your doctor. It could be something as serious as sunstroke, which requires immediate medical attention.

Can sunburns be undone?

Well, in most cases, sunburns are temporary. They are just a result of too much sun or UV rays, but in extreme cases it can lead to permanent damage. Your skin could get scarred, discoloured, or worse, you could get skin cancer or pre-cancerous conditions. That is why we cannot place enough emphasis on protecting yourself when you are out making hay while the sun shines. And when you factor in the region we live in, there is no such thing as over-protection. So, no matter what day of week it is, if it’s a sunny day make sure you wear a nice large hat, sunglasses and a generous amount of sunscreen.

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