What a whirlwind of weather we’ve been experiencing lately! I think it’s safe to say spring weather has arrived which means summer is around the corner and it’s time to start thinking about protecting our skin from the sun’s intense electromagnetic, ultraviolet (UV) rays. A few weekends ago we got a sample of some summer weather and I got a reminder about how intense these UV rays can get – I wasn’t prepared for the sun, which lead to the first sunburn of the season! If you too find yourself or kids in the same situation try the below three natural treatments to help repair the skin:
Well known as a skin soother, aloe is one of the most commonly recommended and effective sunburn remedies “aloe, aloe aloe and more aloe”. Aloe vera plants are very easy to maintain and grow in almost all indoor climates. Break off and squeeze as many leaves as are required to cover the burn.
This is an easy at-home remedy to soothe the skin and relieve the pain from a sunburn. Cook oatmeal as directed but add a little more water then indicated to make a runnier consistency. Allow it to cool completely and then apply liberally to damaged skin but don’t rub it in as it can act as an exfoliant.
Again this remedy can be very effective in soothing the inflammation from the sunburn. Either pop open a vitamin E gelcap and apply it to the area or find a cream with vitamin E in it.
For the rest of the warmer months I encourage that we all use sunscreen (especially when it comes to children). With all skin-products, you should be aware that what you put on your skin will ultimately be absorbed in to the bloodstream. The problem with most commercial sunscreens is the dependence on synthetic chemicals to protect your skin from the UV rays, many of which have been flagged as health hazards.
When choosing a sunscreen, be aware of the chemicals added by looking at the ingredient list. Common toxic chemicals added to most commercial sunscreens have all been flagged as hormone disruptors. These include:
Also avoid retinyl palmitate, a form of Vitamin A that has been linked to causing skin tumors in rats, when exposed to the sun. Parabens, phthalates and sodium lauryl sulfates are other chemicals generally found in most skin products are all items that we should be aware of as well.
Mineral-based sunscreen offer great protection from UV rays, and are much safer compared to chemically-based sunscreens. These sunscreens use one of two minerals as the active ingredient – zinc oxide and titanium oxide – which form a physical barrier between your skin and the sun’s UVA and UVB rays (most chemical sunscreens do not offer UVA protection). Mineral-based sunscreens are not absorbed in to the bloodstream as the molecules are too big to pass through the skin. Optimal sunscreens should have either one of these minerals and should contain natural skin healing ingredients such as aloe, coconut oil, chamomile, calendula, shea, and vitamins A, E and D. Avoid aerosol sprays and loose powder sunscreens due to high risk of inhalation (even if they are mineral-based). We carry Substance Baby Natural Suncare Cream at the clinic if you have difficulty finding a sunscreen the meets the above recommendations.
Finally, sunscreens are there to protect the skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, however the best protection is always staying covered up – wear hats, light cotton clothing and sunglasses during long days in the sun.
Dr. Tanya Lee, H.BSc., N.D.
Dr. Tanya Lee is a naturopathic doctor currently practicing in Milton Ontario. Tanya was drawn to the naturopathic profession for its core beliefs in treating the whole person. Dr. Lee practice general medicine, with a special interest in children's health, women's health and pregnancy.
For more information on Dr. Lee and her practice, please visit, www.healthcentreofmilton.ca.