How To Minimize Sunburn Damage

Holli Lapes, RD, LD/N

Its summer, naturally you are on vacation with the family, spending hours upon hours at the beach with the kids. That book you were reading was so interesting that you forgot to reapply your sunscreen.

Now, you have to deal with that uncomfortable feeling of being sunburnt with skin that is hot to the touch and will later begin to peel. The damage has been done; there is nothing you can do about it besides deal with it… right?

Life happens, and whether you forgot to reapply the sunscreen or didn’t put any on in the first place, there are ways to expedite the healing process and repair some of the damage that has been done to the skin and to our DNA. This enlightening piece of news certainly does not mean to forget about sunscreen altogether.

In fact, the more times a person develops a sunburn in their lifetime, the higher their risk becomes for developing certain types of skin cancer.1 Also, excessive sun exposure can lead to premature aging in the form of wrinkles.

This photoaging (sun-induced aging) can leave the skin devoid of moisture, prone to acne and pigment changes. So, using sunscreen is an essential way of maintaining skin health when exposed to ultraviolent (UV) rays from the sun.

Protect Yourself from the Inside Out

The antioxidant beta-carotene and other carotenoids (a form of vitamin A) that are typically found in orange and red pigmented foods can help protect our skin from damaging rays and give our body what it needs to neutralize the free radicals accumulated from sun exposure.2 Include these beta-carotene rich snacks at your pool party: carrots, bell peppers and cantaloupe. Also, consider taking an oral lycopene supplement supplying at least 15 mg of this tomato-based extract, especially throughout the summer months.3

Another key extract to include in your summer regimen is a fern known as Polypodium leucotomos that can promote healthy DNA function after UV exposure.4 Research has shown that those who supplement with Polypodium leucotomos recover faster from ultraviolet-induced inflammation.5 This botanical is available as a dietary supplement and offers a variety of benefits to the skin, especially when complemented with red orange extract. In one study, red orange extract reduced the intensity of sunburn by about 35%! 6

Topical for the Tropical

Your go-to is probably topical aloe vera, which is one great option that has been shown to produce a soothing effect and ease inflammation and in those with UV-induced erythema.7 Be sure to choose an aloe vera gel that doesn’t have unnecessary additives such as colorings. Remember, our skin is porous and to some extent will absorb what we put on it.

Aside from this relatively well-known remedy is topical vitamin C. One can use a cream containing various vitamin C derivatives including magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, and ascorbyl glucoside. These three precursors convert into the active form of vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) in the skin. These stabilized forms can then reduce the damage caused by UV rays and even support the repair process.8




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