Effective After Sun Care Strategies
When it comes to sun exposure, the key is moderation. A 2017 study from Spain showed that in about 30 minutes, most people get the vitamin D they need and if they remain in the sun unprotected for longer than that, there is risk of burning. Practitioners want patients to get the health benefits—and the vitamin D—from being outside in nature and in the sun, but they don’t want patients to burn. Despite sun protection advice, some patients are at risk of burning. In those cases, after sun care becomes critical.
There are many factors that can increase someone’s risk of burning or experiencing damage from the sun:
- Light skin tone
- Red or light blonde hair
- Freckled skin
- Light eye color
- Higher altitude
- Being near water
- Some antibiotics, heart medications, tri-cyclic antidepressants and other medications
Here is a link to the Fitzpatrick Skin Type quiz provided by the Skin Cancer Foundation: https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/are-you-at-risk/fitzpatrick-skin-quiz. This quiz can be used in your clinical practice to help patients understand their risk of burning.
Aloe vera gel is perhaps the most tried and true after sun care suggestion. When applied topically, it soothes the skin and supports a healthy inflammatory response. Aloe can also be combined with a variety of other natural ingredients to provide synergistic effect. Coconut oil applied topically will also help support sunburned skin. Essential oils like peppermint and lavender can also help provide relief. Some topical products may include herbs that are specifically shown to help support inflammation. These can include arnica, chamomile, witch hazel, calendula, rose, and comfrey.
The benefits of being out in nature has been gaining much momentum in the scientific literature over the past decade. Practitioners should encourage patients to get outside. With that recommendations comes the risk of increased sun exposure and the possibility of a sun burn. Fortunately, when this happens, patients can be given several effective natural options to gain some relief. While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, keeping the cabinet stocked with plenty of aloe vera and other natural ingredients might be a good idea as well.
Grundmann O. Aloe vera gel research review: an overview of its clinical uses and proposed mechanisms of action. Natural Medicine Journal. 2012;4(9).
Maenthaisong R, Chaiyakunapruk N, Niruntraporn S, Kongkaew C. The efficacy of aloe very used for burn wound healing: a systemic review. Burns. 2007;33(6):713-8.
Serrano MA, Canada J, Moreno JC, Gurrea G. Solar ultraviolet doses and vitamin D in a northern mid-latitude. Science of The Total Environment. 2017;574:744.