We're all familiar with sunburn—the short-term skin inflammation caused by overexposure to the sun. Besides the familiar redness, pain, blistering, and flaking, overexposure to sunlight can lead to long-term skin damage, including premature aging and an increased risk of skin cancer.
The chief culprit in sunburn is not the sun's heat but its ultraviolet radiation, which occurs in the forms UVA and UVB. This radiation acts on substances in our skin to form chemicals called free radicals. These free radicals appear to be partly responsible for the short-term damage of sunburn, and perhaps for long-term damage from the sun as well.
Many drugs and herbs may increase your sensitivity to the sun. Some of the drugs that increase sun sensitivity are sulfa drugs , tetracycline , phenothiazines , and piroxicam . Herbs which might increase sensitivity to the sun include St. John's wort and dong quai . Particular care should be taken when combining any of these substances, as they could amplify each other's effects.
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Several studies have found that vitamins C , vitamin E , and EGCG (a bioflavonoid present in green tea ) may help to prevent sunburn when used either topically or orally. Many manufacturers already add vitamin E to sunscreens.
Vitamins C and E
The typical proposed dose of EGCG is 3 mg per square inch of skin.
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Beta-carotene and Mixed Carotenoids
Beta-carotene belongs to a large family of natural chemicals known as carotenoids. Other members of this family include lutein , lycopene , and zeaxanthin. Widely found in plants, carotenoids are a major source of the red, orange, and yellow hues seen in many fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene is important nutritionally because the body uses it to produce vitamin A .
Beta-carotene, alone or in combination with lutein and other carotenoids, may be able to reduce the effects of sunburn, but study results are mixed.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -