UVA And UVB are two types of sun rays that reach earth, can penetrate our skin and cause sunburn. Too much sun exposure or exposure to other UV source or tanning bed overwhelms the body’s immune system and leads to sunburn. Not always sun damage is visible. Too much exposure to sun rays over the time may alter your DNA or lead to premature skin ageing. DNA damage can even contribute melanoma which is deadly skin cancer.
Signs of Sunburn
Your skin turns red and hurts when you have a minor sunburn. Severe sunburn may lead to the development of blisters. In extreme cases, you experience fever, chills, headache, nausea, electrolyte imbalance, weakness, and fluid loss and hospital care is required.
Mild sunburn can be treated at home. You need to stay out of the sun until the burn fades. Also, it is advised to drink lots of water to stay hydrated and stay in a cool place. Better keep your house cool using fan or AC.
A few days after sunburn (4-7 days) there is itching, and your skin starts peeling off. This is the body’s way to get rid of the cells that are damaged.
For mild sunburn that does not require hospital care, your doctor will prescribe over the counter pain relievers, topical over the counter creams that contain hydrocortisone and supplements.
What you can do at home is to take measures to soothe inflammation and pain as soon as possible. Essential oils for sunburn are rich in antioxidant, alleviates inflammation and being anti-microbial prevents secondary infection. The active compounds present in essential oils have protective as well as regenerative effect.
Below are 10 essential oils for sunburn. Read and select essential oil of your choice to soothe sunburn.
10 Best Essential Oils For Sunburn
- Lavender Oil- Lavender oil is the mildest of all essential oils and is rapidly absorbed by the skin. It is rich in adaptogenic compounds that amplifies the ability of the skin to heal itself. Also, it is rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and soothes skin. It has been used to treat wounds since ages. It alleviates pain, the sting of burns, swelling and redness. Being antimicrobial it prevents secondary infections, stimulates cell formation, improves blood circulation, speeds up the healing process and firms and tones the skin.
- Peppermint Oil– Peppermint oil is a natural painkiller. It acts as vasoconstrictor and narrows the inflamed blood vessels. It is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antimicrobial. Also, it provides a cooling sensation to the burnt areas. Use quality peppermint essential oil that is rich in at least 44% free methanol.
*You will also, find peppermint essential oil effective in alleviating after-sun headaches that troubles few people.
- Tea Tree Essential Oil- Tea tree oil is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and boosts body immunity. It reduces blistering as well as peeling.
- Geranium Essential Oil- Geranium oil is not only anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory but also anti-cancer. It is a nerve tonic and sedative and thus is a powerful pain reliever.
- Chamomile Essential Oil– Due to its soothing, calming, anti-inflammatory properties and ability to promote healing chamomile essential oil is used in treating a lot of skin issues such as psoriasis, boils and sunburn.
- Eucalyptus Oil– Like other essential oils eucalyptus oil is also anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. It also has the anti-cancer and anti-proliferative property that prevents the spread of cancer cells.
- Vitamin C Essential Oil– Vitamin C essential oil is known to protect against UVA and UVB rays. It is anti-inflammatory and promotes the collagen production. It also corrects pigmentation and improves the natural skin protection against the harmful UV rays.
- Vitamin E Essential Oil– Vitamin E oil acts as an antioxidant, absorbs UV radiations and promotes the thickening of the outermost skin layer. It hydrates the skin and improves the skin ability to retain moisture. Like other essential oils, vitamin E oil is also anti-inflammatory.
- Rosehip Oil– Rosehip oil is known for its moisturizing properties. In comparison to other essential oils it is thicker and is absorbed quickly. It is rich in omega fatty acids and antioxidants that repairs the skin barrier, prevents sunburn and reverses the damage caused by free radicals.
- Frankincense Oil- Frankincense oil is a powerful skin tonic. It relieves pain, promotes skin regeneration and brings back the original lustre of the burnt skin.
Precautions While Using Essential Oils For Sunburns
- A few side effects of essential oils are skin irritation, skin sensitization, photosensitivity and allergy. Essential oils are potent and should not be applied to the skin directly. Better dilute it with carrier oil or water before using.
- Never ingest essential oils are they are toxic and may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
- The use of essential oils is prohibited for breastfeeding mother and pregnant women. Also, people with skin allergy, inflammatory or immune skin condition, with the photosensitive order and pigmentation should stay away from it. The use of essential oil on infants and small children is not recommended.
- Essential oils should never be applied to mucous membrane or the skin areas that is thin, and near hormone-regulated organs such as eyelids, genitals, mouth and breast.
- Essential oils especially citrus derived, can make skin more susceptible to the damage caused due to UV rays. So better avoid stepping out in the sun after its application.
Besides essential oils, some other home remedies for sunburn that are readily available and equally effective are:
- Aloe vera
- Coconut oil
- Baking soda
- Black tea
- Apple cider vinegar
You may use the home remedies to treat sunburn alongside the essential oils to alleviate symptoms and fasten the healing.
Prevention is always better than cure. To prevent sunburn follow the precautionary measures discussed below:
- Sun rays are strong during summers and that too between 11 am to 4 pm. Avoid stepping out in the sun during this time of the day.
- Cover exposed skin parts with sunscreen before stepping out in the sun. Use sunscreen liberally. Sunscreen should have at least SPF 30. It is always advised to apply sunscreen half an hour before going out in the sun. Also, use sunscreen during winters, and overcast days. Sunscreen should be applied after every 2 hours or after swimming, or if you have sweat profusely. Better use a water-resistant sunscreen. Also, apply sunscreen to your scalp if you are bald.
- Wear a scarf, wide-brim hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Seek shades
- Stay hydrated.
UVB rays is reflected from surfaces such as snow, sand, and ice. At high altitude, the level of UV increases by 10 to 12 % as thin atmosphere filters fewer UV rays. UVA rays can even penetrate through glass. So always be prepared with sun protective measures to prevent sunburn and decrease the risk of premature ageing and skin cancer.
There are small-scale researches on essential oils for sunburn that has given positive results. Studies also conclude that for best results apply essential oil to the affected area as soon as possible.
A word Of caution:
Essential Oil is an effective treatment for mild sunburn where only the topmost skin layer is affected. For severe sunburn, essential oils may help, still it is recommended to consult your doctor because you may need additional treatment.
*Using essential oils for any health condition is considered complementary treatment. There is no specific guidelines on how to use essential oil. So use with caution.