HEALING SOLUTIONS FOR BURNS AND SUNBURNS
-Andrea Candee, MH, MSC
Parents know to limit the amount of time children spend in the sun, and to cover them with protective lotion. That having been said, even the most careful parents can let their families get overexposed.
If sunburn does occur, the pain and inflammation can be relieved by any of the following formulations.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR BATH
For large sunburned areas, an apple cider vinegar bath works wonders. Use a brand from the health food store that has been wood-aged, rather than one from the supermarket that may have been chemically-aged. Apple cider vinegar helps to balance the skin’s pH factor, its acid/alkaline balance. As with all parts of the body, when there is chemical balance, healing is supported.
YOGURT SKIN HEALER
Though it may not have all of us living to 120 (remember those Russian peasant ads of several years back?), yogurt is a natural healer. It is the antidote for the burn of hot, spicy food in Indian cooking by re-establishing acid/alkaline balance and works the same way for sunburned skin. For sunburn, I use compresses of natural yogurt to help cool and hydrate the skin.
BAKING SODA SUNBURN SOOTHER
No apple cider vinegar or plain yogurt in the house? Then check the deepest recess of your refrigerator for that box of baking soda you stashed there eons ago (hopefully, not too many eons--to effectively deodorize your fridge, baking soda should be changed about every 3 months). Like apple cider vinegar and yogurt, baking soda helps to balance pH, the skin’s acid/alkaline balance.
AMAZING ALOE CURE (Aloe vera)
Aloe has the unique ability to help skin renew itself by stimulating cellular metabolism, thereby promoting oxygen exchange and increasing the absorption of nutrients. Aloe contains the anti-oxidant vitamins A and C; the minerals copper, selenium, and magnesium; and zinc, a powerful virus fighter. This method is best used for more localized sunburns.
LAVENDER OIL (Lavandula off.)
The essential oil of lavender is one of the only essential oils that can safely be applied to the skin without diluting it in a carrier oil. Applying lavender oil will take the sting out of the burn, and heal it quickly. It’s calming aromatherapy properties will help to ease the emotional upset of a painful burn.
In Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art (Crossing Press), herbalist Mindy Green combines the essential oil of lavender with aloe to create a soothing preparation for sunburn relief.
In a 6-8 ounce glass jar mix together 4 ounces aloe gel (fresh from the plant or purchased in the health food store), ½ teaspoon essential oil of lavender, one teaspoon apple cider vinegar, and the contents of two 400IU capsules Vitamin E (puncture the Vitamin E capsules with a straight pin to release the contents).
One more suggestion, feeding your children sweet potatoes will make them less likely to burn! A small sweet potato contains more than twice the daily need for beta carotene which helps to reduce the redness and inflammation of a sunburn. “Beta carotene accumulates in the skin, providing partial protection for 24 hours against sun damage”, says University of Arizona’s school of public health professor, Ronald Watson, PhD.
WHEN TO SEEK EMERGENCY HELP
Burns that appear more than reddened or mildly blistered should be immediately seen by your doctor or emergency room personnel.
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR BURNS
VITAMIN E. Puncture a vitamin E capsule with a straight pin, and spread a thick layer of the oil on the burned skin. I always keep a bottle of Vitamin E oil in my kitchen.
LAVENDER OIL (Lavandula off.). This is one of the only essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin without dilution (see sunburns, above).
ST. JOHN’S WORT OIL (Hypericum perforatum). Apply undiluted to the burn.
COMFREY OINTMENT (Symphytum off.). Apply directly on the burn.
DR. CHRISTOPHER’S BURN OINTMENT
This is one of Dr. John R. Christopher’s most famous and well-used treatments for burns. The herbal ingredients are anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. They soothe tissue, and encourage growth of new skin. It can be used for severely reddened and blistered burns (if you feel comfortable handling them at home), or can be used a few days after medical treatment, with your doctor’s approval.
BABY BEAR’S BURN REMEDY
Uncooked, raw, natural honey (purchased in a health food store) is a sweet, sticky way to ease the pain of a mild burn. Its anti-microbial and hydrating properties work to keep the area free of infection and well-moisturized. Scientific study of honey indicates that its trace amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids help make it an effective treatment for burns, scrapes and minor sore throats.
ALOE (Aloe vera)
When I used the aloe on my scalding burn, I made one mistake: I failed to bind the aloe securely. In the morning, the area covered by the gel alone was still hot, reddened, and blistered. The area covered by the gel and peel, however, was totally healed--not even a hint of redness remained! This taught me how important it is to cover a burn with both the gel and peel of the aloe plant.
Copyright 2004 Andrea Candee
Andrea Candee, MH, MSC, is a master herbalist with a practice in South Salem, NY. She lectures for corporate wellness centers about taking charge of your health naturally and will bring her workshops to you. Her book, Gentle Healing for Baby and Child (Simon & Schuster), was awarded The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval. She may be contacted through her website, www.andreacandee.com.