Got Sunburn? Get Milk.
- Dermatologist at UMDNJ Offers Home Remedies
and Advice for Sunburn Relief -
NEW BRUNSWICK — A dermatologist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey advises people of all ages to avoid exposing their skin to prolonged periods of direct sunlight. Along with that reminder, Dr. Amy Pappert, of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, offers several sunburn soothing remedies and one remedy, which involves milk, may be surprising.
“First and foremost, I would like to set the record straight, there is no such thing as ‘a healthy tan.’ Both suntans and sunburns can result in DNA damage that can lead to skin cancer,” said Dr. Pappert, assistant professor of dermatology, at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Unfortunately skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and the number of individuals who are diagnosed continues to increase. According to the American Cancer Society, this year more than one million Americans will be diagnosed with nonmelanoma skin cancer, which includes basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Over 100,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma, the second most common cancer in women between ages 20 and 29.”
Skin cancer develops in people of all complexions. Dr. Pappert offers this sun protection advice:
Milk is the beverage of choice for relieving the discomfort of sunburn, said Dr. Pappert. Apply cool, not cold, milk with a clean cloth or gauze to your skin. The coolness soothes the initial heat felt by the skin and the milk will create a protein film that helps ease the discomfort.
Take aspirin or ibuprofen to decrease the pain and inflammation (as with any medication do not take if you are allergic and check first your physician). Take a regular dose of vitamin E to help decrease the inflammation caused by sunburn. Or, to soothe the pain, soak in a tub of tepid water with one cup of white cider vinegar.
The best prevention for skin cancer is sun avoidance. Stay indoors especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest, even on cloudy days. Dr. Pappert calls this time of day ‘the midday burning hours.’ While this recommendation may not be practical, people should try to do their outdoor activities as early or late in the day. Vacationing? Head to a restaurant, mall, museum, or the movies during midday hours. When in sunlight, wear items that will shield your skin from the sun: a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and long sleeves.
About 30 minutes before going into the sun, generously apply sunscreen to exposed skin sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Reapply every two hours even on cloudy days and after swimming or perspiring. The SPF only applies to protection from ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Make sure your sunscreen provides a broad-spectrum of UVA and UVB protection.
Products containing Parsol 1789 or avobenzone block against the long wave UVA rays. It should be combined with oxybenzone, which blocks against the short wave UVA rays. Other broad-spectrum UVA blockers are titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or Mexoryl SX. Mexoryl SX has been used in Canada and Europe since 1993 but was just recently approved by the FDA for use in the US in July 2006. Information about specific products can be found on the manufacturer's website. The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep cosmetic safety database online is a useful resource for identifying consumer report listing the effectiveness of various recently tested sunscreens.
Don't forget that high altitude activities such as hiking and snow skiing can expose people to more intense ultraviolet rays.
Perform regular self skin checks all you need is a hand held and full length mirror and a well-lit room.
Have your skin checked by a dermatologist once a year or more often if you find a suspicious growth or have risk factors for skin cancer. Other risk factors include freckles, light skin color, eye color or hair color, a personal or family history of skin cancer, and the presence of multiple moles. Dr. Pappert identified research that indicates having just a few sunburns during childhood years doubles the likelihood of developing malignant melanoma later in life.
“Finally, if you still insist on having a tan, use a self-tanning cream or lotion along with your daily sunscreen. We also advise avoiding a tanning bed,” said Dr. Pappert.
Contact Kaylyn Kendall Dines at 973-972-5000 to arrange an interview with Dr. Pappert.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.