Summertime Fun with Diabetes (Continued)

What can I do to treat my sunburn?

For most of us, we'll get sunburn at least once this summer…. what can you do to treat sunburn when it comes your way?

Sunburn is a first-degree burn. To combat the pain associated with this type of burn, immerse the affected area(s) in cold water for 10-15 minutes or apply cold compresses. If you're burned all over your body, try adding oatmeal or cornstarch to a cold bath and soak in it. The oatmeal soothes the skin and reduces inflammation. Baby oil or after-sun screens seal in heat. Don't use these! You may want to use a cooling lotion or a lotion that contains benzocaine. These lotions work on nerve endings in the skin and provide temporary relief.

There are other, more creative options to help protect your skin from the sun: **

An article titled "What You Eat Can Protect Your Skin from the Sun" by Barbara Levine, R.D., Ph.D. caught my attention. Levine writes that research from Harvard University has found a natural agent that may help prevent sun damage. The article states that lutein – a potent antioxidant found in dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale – may protect the skin from sun damage.

"Lutein has been widely recognized for its eye health benefits for several years. But, our data is the first of its kind to suggest that lutein may have the potential to act as a preventative agent against UVB-induced skin cancer," said Salvador Gonzalez, M.D., Ph.D., leader of the Harvard research team. "In addition, these data suggest lutein protects the skin against damage caused by exposure to UVB light, further validating our position that lutein is a critical component to overall skin health."

Lutein is a yellow-green pigment found predominantly in vegetables. It is present in the eyes and skin of the human body. As an antioxidant, lutein is said to protect the eyes from the damaging effects of aging. Lutein can also act as a light filter for the skin, protecting against the sun's harmful rays.

You can boost your lutein by eating a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables. Consumption of 6 milligrams of lutein per day (approximately one-third cup of cooked spinach) has been linked to a reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Vitamins and dietary supplements formulated with purified lutein provide another option for adding this nutrient to a daily diet.

Most of all, be prepared this summer and have a plan to deal with exposure to and potential damage by the sun. Diabetes won't keep me from at least looking sun-kissed. I will be lathering on the SPF 45 and using my new artificial spray tan all summer long. I have learned to prefer the fake to the real tan, as wrinkles, pain, and skin damage don't accompany the spray on / wash off products.

Make sure you have your plan in place to have fun in the sun – diabetes included.

Nicole Johnson

* Adapted from material published by Joslin Diabetes Center.
**This does not take the place of sunscreen!

Read Nicole's bio here.

Read more of Nicole Johnson's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

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Last Modified Date: April 23, 2013

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