Raise Vegan August 2018 - Page 49

HOW TO AVOID AND TREAT SUN RELATED SKIN PROBLEMS W e all feel better with a bit of sunshine on our skin, and a little extra vitamin D is always useful. However, overdoing it may result in skin irritation and painful rashes. Here are some con- siderations to keep you and your family free from rashes caused by the sun and heat. Sunburn Sunburn appears as warm, red, tender skin on sun-exposed parts of the body. It can take 4-8 hours for sunburn to appear, so you may not realize at the time that you are burning. This is why is is so important to prevent the risk of it by applying a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 before going out. There is a close association between skin cancers and sunburn or skin damage; another good reason to slather yourself and your family in good quality sunscreen. Don’t forget to cover some of the sensitive areas that sometimes get missed, like the scalp, ears and eyes. Hats are really useful, but you can buy sun protection which is made specifically for the scalp, and you should include the ears and skin around the eyes when creaming up before heading into the sun. When buying sunscreen, a high SPF is not the only thing you need to look out for. SPF prevents UVB rays - these are the rays that burn the skin. You will also see stars on the label and these represent the lev- el of protection against UVA rays, these rays damage the skin through ageing. The sunscreen you purchase should have a high SPF rating (at least 30), as well as a high star rating (5 out of 5 is the highest). It should be applied regularly throughout the day, ideally every 2-3 hours, and don’t forget to reapply if you or the kids have been for a swim. Another very obvious measure to prevent sunburn is staying out of the sun during the warmest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm, or covering up with loose, light colored clothing. If you or one of your family members does get burnt in the sun, you can use cold compresses and spong- ing to cool the skin down. Over-the-counter painkill- ers and antihistamines for pain and itching can also offer relief. Liquid versions of these medications are more likely to be vegan as they typically don’t contain lactose or gelatin. Soothing lotions can also ease the discomfort and add moisture to burned, dry skin, but avoid products that contain petroleum jelly, as they can insulate the skin, retaining heat. Blisters and peeling skin should not be picked at, as this process is part of the normal healing process and should be allowed to occur naturally to avoid scarring and infection. If burns are severe, please seek medical advice, particularly for children. Prickly Heat Prickly heat is a common skin complaint that appears as small, itchy, red spots. It occurs because of blocked sweat ducts, so it occurs during times of heavy sweating, particularly on sweaty skin that has been covered up. It can be uncomfortable but usually resolves quickly. Prickly heat can be prevented by slowly acclimating to the heat, and keeping cool. Suncream with good UVA protection also helps to keep it at bay. If you or one of your family members ends up suffering from prickly heat, make sure to wash any greasy creams off the skin, keep clothing loose, and use antihistamines to help with itching. Polymorphic Light Eruption (PMLE) PMLE is another common skin condition that occurs because of the sun, but usually starts in adolescence, rather than younger children. It is often mistaken for prickly heat, as it can look and feel similar. However, PMLE is caused directly by UVA and UVB rays, rather than heat and blocked sweat ducts. This means it appears on areas of sun-exposed skin, usually as small red spots or tiny blisters. The rash can last for several days, but it resolves without leaving any scars. If you or one of your family has PMLE, you will probably have already seen a doctor and received this diagnosis after suffering a reoccuring rash during the warmer months. PMLE is prevented by staying out of direct sun- li ght, although sunscreen can help if you do go out, as can keeping covered up with loose clothing. I have found that sunscreens made specifically for sensitive skin can be slightly more effective for people prone to this condition. Mild cases don’t usually need medical input after diagnosis; they can typically be prevented with the above measures and treated with an antihistamine for itching. Some cases can be more severe, and your doctor can prescribe a topical steroid cream if necessary, or even an oral steroid for those who experience severe symptoms. There are even therapies which can prevent further occurrences of PMLE in those who suffer from severe attacks every year, so it is worth discussing this with your doctor. So stay cool, stay hydrated, and cover up. Keep a stash of good quality sunscreen, liquid painkill- ers, and antihistamines with you when you’re out enjoying the summer sun. Please see your doctor if you or your family happens to experience severe burns, or if you think you might be suffering from recurrent, severe PMLE. RAISEVEGAN.COM Raise Vegan 49