Summer and sunburns seem to go hand-in-hand. Maybe your sunscreen didn't work, or you just forgot to apply or re-apply it, but either way, the end result is painful sun damage that can have a lasting effect. There are two problems you need to tackle when you get a sunburn: the skin damage and the pain.
The pain, itching and burning caused by a sunburn is what most people think about first since it's a bit difficult to ignore discomfort, but fortifying your body to help it repair skin cells is a must. When your skin is over-exposed to sun, the cells experience oxidative stress, which means that your skin cells consume huge amounts of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your body's cells against free radicals, which can damage cells and lead to cancer and heart disease, among other serious health problems. When your skin cells are consuming extra antioxidants, your other cells could suffer-and that's if you're consuming enough antioxidants to help your skin cells deal with a bad sunburn.
Loading up on antioxidant-rich foods will go a long way to helping your body heal. Foods packed with vitamins A, C or E and beta-carotene are great options. Try sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, broccoli, blueberries, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, oranges, sunflower seeds (raw), dry-roasted almonds, or eggs for an extra dose of antioxidants that can help your skin repair itself.
Soothing that itchy, painful sunburn is also imperative. There are lots of products on the market that can soothe sunburns, but there is a cheaper and natural option right at home. Teas have been used for medicinal benefits for centuries, but few people know that it can help ease and heal a sunburn.
Room-temperature tea applied to sunburns has a cooling effect, helping to alleviate the itch and pain of sunburn. The tannins in tea may also help repair sun damage. A study published in 2000 in the journal Nutrition and Cancer showed that tannins helped protect the skin of hairless mice against the development of tumors caused by UVB radiation.
Tea Treatment for Sunburn
Before you start, remember that tea stains. Ceramic and glass tubs, basins and tiles are safe, but porcelain, marble, and many plastics will stain quickly. If you don't have a ceramic tub or ceramic- or glass-tiled shower, throw on old clothes and apply the tea tincture out in the backyard.
- A large bowl
- Three tea bags, or loose leaf tea
- A clean rag (a piece of a soft, old T-shirt is a good option)
Brew some tea in a large bowl and set it aside to cool to room temperature.
Soak the rag in the cooled tea, and squeeze the rag lightly to avoid excessive dripping. You still want plenty of liquid in the rag.
Gently dab the tea onto your sunburned skin. Do not rinse.
Leave the tea on your skin for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight. And don't forget to use an old or very dark set of sheets on your bed to avoid staining.
While prevention is always the best medicine, if you get a sunburn, there are natural ways to cope. Supporting your body as it repairs your skin cells and soothing damaged skin naturally is not nearly as difficult as it sounds.