Oh Mr. Sun, Mr. Golden Sun...
Calendula Gel (or cream) – if you can’t find any 7 Cream in your local health food store, then get a tube of calendula gel or cream. For sunburns, I find the gel is cooler, and therefore more soothing, and easily absorbed - but the cream works fine as well, you just have to be gentle in rubbing it in as it goes on white. Calendula speeds the healing of injured tissues, so this is something you can also put on a wound or abrasion to lessen the chances of infection, promote a healthy regeneration of skin and also minimize scarring.
Besides these topical creams, there are homeopathic remedies you can take to help your whole system respond to the state of sunburn and neutralize any potential damage. A homeopathic remedy works to strengthen and support your whole system ‘s healing response and so not only will the right remedy help the superficial skin symptoms of sunburn, but should also relieve any emotional or systemic symptoms which may accompany the burn. In choosing which remedy to try first, do your best to match the remedy’s symptoms to those being experienced by the person.
Urtica Urens – This is the remedy I usually suggest anyone heading to a tropical beach take with them. It has a double-whammy of being good for both first degree burns (i.e. sunburn) as well as itching eruptions of the skin. So you can think of this remedy for itchy sunburns that may sting and burn, as well as insect bites that also have those same characteristics (itching, burning and/or stinging). The emotional symptoms can reflect this feeling of itching and burning as they may be irritable and impatient, and unable to get comfortable.
Cantharis – This is a remedy for a more severe case of sunburn, either 1st or 2nd degree, where the pain and burning sensation is severe. The inflammation will be violent, with severe symptoms developing quickly after too much exposure to the sun. There may be eruptions and blistering of the skin as if it has been scalded and will burn terribly. As the physical symptoms are more extreme than Urtica urens, so are the mental/emotional symptoms and the person may be anxious or enraged and above all restless from their symptoms, “constantly attempting to do something but accomplishing nothing.”
Belladonna – This is the remedy for cases of heat- or even sunstroke, where the area affected turns bright red, throbs with pain, and is dry to the touch. The person may suddenly run a high fever and can have a bright red face but with cool extremities. There can be a pounding headache which will feel as though their head could burst. They may complain of pulsating, throbbing pain, and will be very sensitive to touch, light, and jarring. They may express great irritability and strong emotions and with the high heat or fever, even hallucinate. Belladonna means “beautiful woman” and people needing this remedy will often have an unusual glistening to the eyes.
Heat stroke is a very serious condition and medical attention should be sought immediately. On the way to emergency, you can give Belladonna every 15 – 30 minutes .
Administration and potencies of the remedies: You can apply the 7 Cream or Calendula gel liberally and frequently for as long as needed. When using homeopathic remedies for cases of sunburn, 30C is a good potency to use and the one most readily available from health food stores or other homeopathic sources. In mild cases of sunburn, give 2 doses (each dose being 2-3 pellets) within an hour’s time. After that, repeat the remedy again an hour or so later or when the symptoms are more bothersome. If, after 3-5 doses and several hours, there has been no improvement in symptoms, then you probably need a different remedy and can try something else. For most cases of sunburn, the right remedy will bring significant improvement within hours. Make sure the person drinks plenty of fluid (an electrolyte replacement drink may also be helpful) and keep them as shaded as possible for a few days.
So while we all need to treasure these days of sunshine, being smart around sun exposure and using homeopathy when too much has been had, can protect our long-term health and keep us enjoying our activities. Have a great summer!