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Monday, April 21, 2014

Traditional Remedies for Sunburn and Minor Burn Care

After a long cold winter season, many people look so forward to spring, that as soon as an opportunity presents itself, they soak up those warm rays by laying out in the sun. As therapeutic as that is for our moods, and most likely we do need the vitamin D, too much of a good thing all at once can easily result in a nasty sunburn.

Or perhaps, a distraction while preparing something on the stove resulted in a burn from the burner, a hot frying pan grease spatter, or even scalding water while draining pasta. Accidents happen and if you know how to handle these mishaps quickly, you can treat a first degree burn at home and help the damaged tissue to repair itself without too much pain or blistering.

Burns affect the skin by setting off immune responses within the body. It depends on the severity of the tissue damage that prompts a particular immune response.
When the immune response is prompted, platelets and inflammatory cells are sent to the affected area and cause the swelling and redness. With serious burns, infection is a threat, therefore the immune system sets off chemical reactions to stop invasion of bacteria.

With a first-degree burn the outer layer of skin, called the epidermis, is damaged. This results in inflammation and reddening. These burn types can be treated at home.

A second-degree burn has damage to not only the epidermis but deeper to the next layer of skin called the dermis. This results in not only the reddening and swelling, but also blistering. Blisters are very painful and infection is a possibility, therefore should be treated with medical attention.

The most serious burns are called third-degree, where multiple dermal layers have been burned away.
Third-degree burns require immediate medical attention. Depending on how much of the body is affected, these injuries are often down to the bone and can result in shock, infection and possibly be life threatening.

The following home remedies use ingredients that are known to help heal the damaged tissue from burns, but if you suspect your burn involves more than that described as first-degree, go to the doctor for advice on treatment.

The Meadow Muffin Gardens shop carries four varieties of sunburn and/or minor burn home remedy choices.

One uses the benefits of herbal oils and coconut, one uses the wonderful aloe plant,  one uses the properties of apple cider vinegar, and the last uses raw honey. They are all beneficial and suited for the different preferences of the consumer. Some people find salves too greasy for their liking, others don't like the smell of vinegar and others may have to be careful with allergies. So here you have choices from which to see what works for you.

The herbal balm/salve is based on the therapeutic properties of St. Johnswort and Comfrey. St. Johnswort flowers contains hypericin, which is beneficial for injuries involving the nerves.
Comfrey contains allantoin, which stimulates and accelerates tissue repair.
Coconut oil is wonderful for its cooling nature and often used for burn remedies. The unique combination of fatty acids in coconut oil help relieve inflammation and provide the needed moisture.

Added are three very beneficial essential oils: lavender, rosemary and carrot seed.
Lavender's reputation for burn treatment originates with the "father of aromatherapy", the french chemist Dr. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. He burned his hand very severely and quickly immersed it into a vat of lavender oil. He was amazed how quickly his hand healed without scarring.
Rosemary, a cleansing and antiseptic oil, combines with lavender to increase circulation, reduce inflammation and relax the muscles. All of which aid in regenerating new tissue.
Carrot seed oil is added because its beta-carotene levels have been shown to protect against ultra-violet-induced skin cancer.

In using a salve on a burn, you have to remember to first cool down the skin. Don't apply the salve immediately since you don't want to trap in the heat.
First step for burned skin is to cool down the damaged skin with wet, cold compresses. Don't use ice water or ice cubes. Once the burn is cool, it is ok to apply applications of this soothing salve. You don't want to apply it before the skin is completely cooled or you'll be trapping in the heat. The advantage of a salve is that it stays put and provides protective coverage without needing a bandage, therefore the burn has needed exposure to the open air.

Radiation as part of cancer treatment can result in reddening to the treated area of skin. This herbal salve/balm can be very beneficial to help with radiation burns or if used right from the start of treatment, to help prevent the reddening.

The second choice is a very cooling Aloe Vera Spray utilizing the great reputation of Aloe Vera.
If the idea of touching your child's sensitive sunburned skin sends him/her into a panic, then perhaps a spray treatment is more ideal than a salve.

Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) is known for its use in cooling, soothing and healing burns. The sword like leaves of this tropical plant contain a gel and a sticky yellow residue called latex. It's the perfect aid for burn emergencies. Aloe juice reduces inflammation and redness, heals the skin and helps prevent scarring.

As in the salve, this Aloe Vera spray contains the wonderful benefits of lavender and carrot seed essential oils. Aloe Vera gel or this type of spray can be applied as soon as possible. They will do a great job to cool down the heat in the skin and perhaps prevent the inflammation and reddening. Again, this is referring to first degree burns.

Next, we have yet another use for utilizing  popular Apple Cider Vinegar and Witch Hazel.

Rose & Elderflower Vinegar Spray uses the natural anti-inflammatory properties of Apple Cider Vinegar. When applied to sunburn, the skin receives soothing pain relief, and the nutrients naturally in apple cider vinegar help replenish those lost in the skin when damaged.

Vinegar acts as an antiseptic, meaning it prevents proliferation of bacteria, viruses and yeast that could trigger infection.

Roses have long been used in skin care due to their high content of vitamin C and ability to calm down inflammation.

Women have long used Elderflowers for their mildly astringent and stimulating properties. It was used to keep the face smooth, youthful and free from blemishes. Elder flower water alone is very good for sunburn, infusing it in vinegar enhances the therapeutic value even more.

The floral vinegar infusion is diluted with the cooling, astringent, anti-inflammatory benefits of witch hazel. Witch hazel is a standard home remedy in many a household.

Last we have the reemerging respect for using honey as a burn remedy.This picture and listing promote this as a facial mask but it can also be used for burns.

 Honey was a conventional therapy in fighting infection up until the early 20th century, at which time its use slowly vanished with the advent of penicillin. Topical use of honey has a long history. In fact, it is considered one of the oldest known wound dressings.
Now the use of honey in wound care is regaining popularity again, as researchers are determining exactly how honey can help fight serious skin infections.

When considering using honey for the treatment of wounds, it's extremely important to understand that there's a major difference between raw honey and the highly processed "Grade A" type honey you find in most grocery stores. The latter is more akin to high fructose corn syrup, which is more likely to increase infection, and should never be used to treat topical wounds.  High quality RAW honey will help draw fluid away from your wound and suppress the growth of microorganisms. Part of what gives raw honey its antibacterial properties is an enzyme called glucose oxidase, which the worker bees excrete into the nectar. This enzyme releases low levels of hydrogen peroxide when the honey makes contact with your wound. A chemical reaction between the honey and the tissue also makes your wound smell good. Heated honey will destroy this perishable enzyme which is why you want to only use raw honey for this application.
When applied to the skin, honey may serve as a barrier to moisture and keep skin from sticking to dressings.  covered it with a piece of gauze and changed the dressing with new honey every 12 hours.

St. Johnswort

Aloe Vera
Rose and Elderflowers