Tuesday, June 18, 2013

With Summer Approaching...

Burns from a heat source like a stove, oven or from fire are the most extreme type of burn, but sunburns too can cause extreme damage to the skin -  especially if it's repeated...

The skin is the largest organ in the body.  Burns can severely injure the skin and can require medical attention.  First-degree burns make the skin turn red.  Second-degree burns form blisters.  Third-degree burns look charred and cause damage to both the skin and underlying tissue.  Excessive heat, friction, chemicals, electricity and radiation can cause burns.  Sunburns are a form of radiation burn.  The most common complications of a burn are shock, dehydration and infection.  The skin plays a large role in fluid regulation.

A burn causes a large loss of fluid form the skin and can lead to dehydration.  The skin acts as a barrier to microbes.  When the skin is compromised infectious agents have easy access to the exposed area.  The body is also weakened by the burn and less able to fight off infections.

For a severe burn speedy medical treatment is the best first aid.  Keep the person calm, quiet and hydrated to prevent shock.   For common burns there are many topical treatments.  Aloe vera gel can be used as needed to release heat and decrease pain.  Vitamin E oil can be applied to burns that have not broken the skin open.  It reduces scarring and inflammation.  Diluted calendula tincture applied topically will prevent infection.

Do not use greasy substances for first aid.  They prevent heat dissipation and may worsen the burn.  Once the burn has begun to heal the goal of treatment is to reduce scarring.  Vitamin E, rosa mosqueta or calendula cream can help.

Use sunscreens to protect against sunburn.  Sunscreens containing physical sun blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide block both UVA and UVB rays.  New technology makes the particles so small that they go onto the skin with no white coating.   The protective agents need not be absorbed into the skin in order to work therefore they are less harmful to the body.  You can find these sunscreens at health food stores and through National Nutrition.

A diet high in whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables provides a good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration.  Yellow fruits and vegetables containing vitamin A should be consumed.  B vitamins support the immune system and can be acquired by eating nutritional yeasts.  Foods high in potassium such as bananas, potatoes and tomatoes should be eaten to balance electrolytes.  Consume ocean-going fish, nuts, seeds and cold pressed oils for essential fatty acids.

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