Writing about excessive sun exposure may appear to be wishful thinking in January, but I just returned from a two week trip to Hawaii for my brother’s wedding and the topic is on my mind. Like most health related topics, prevention is key and utilizing a high quality, chemical free sunblock is a great starting point, especially for those with fair skin tones. The Environmental Working Group provides a fantastic list of recommended sunscreens at EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens. Sun damage is a type of oxidative injury to the skin and anti-oxidants found in vegetables and fruit are another way to protect yourself from the harmful sun radiation. I also recommend individuals cover up when they are going to be in the sun for extended periods of time. There are clothes designed to be lightweight while also offering sun protection for adults and children. For my bald head, a hat is a must when I am active in the sun.
It was easy to be proactive in Hawaii because I expected the sun radiation to be strong. I have had to learn the hard way that the top of my head is vulnerable to the early Spring sun, even when it doesn’t feel too warm outside. When we miss an opportunity for prevention, it is good to know that homeopathy offers a few remedies that can help to alleviate the discomfort from excessive sun exposures.
The first 3 remedies are to be considered after extreme sun or heat exposure. These are not for your typical sunburn. These cases are medical emergencies and proper medical attention is vital to prevent long term injury or death. Call 911 first and then consider one of these homeopathic remedies.
Glonoinum is the remedy to consider when excessive sun exposure results in a throbbing, bursting, pounding headache. In fact the glonoinum pulsations may be experienced throughout the body. It is as if the blood vessels are dilated and every beat of the heart can be felt pushing the vascular limits of the vessels. The individual may be confused and dizzy, unable to know where he or she is and have difficulty answering questions. Heat and sun exposure will make the symptoms worse while cold applications can help alleviate the discomfort, although a cold application to the head may make the head symptoms worse. If the individual likes a cold washcloth on the arms, legs, and torso while disliking a cold washcloth on the head, consider glonoinum. This is an extreme sun exposure remedy and if it appears that an individual presents with this degree of reaction to sun or heat, I would recommend giving glonoinum and seeking medical attention immediately.
Belladonna is one of the first remedies homeopaths think of when someone has a red, flushed face. Like glonoinum, belladonna is also associated with throbbing sensations. A sunburned belladonna individual isn’t impacted by hot or cold applications like a glonoinum individual. The person needing belladonna will be worse from too much heat, although they generally feel better with a light cover on them. They may feel that their head is too hot while the rest of their body is too cold. The skin will often look bright red and glossy and the individual may sweat only on the head. A belladonna sunburn will likely be extreme and require medical attention.
Camphora is another extreme heat or sunstroke remedy. The individual will have cold, pale, blue skin. There is no sweat. Even though the individual may feel icy cold, they will refuse any type of covering. There is extreme fatigue and the individual may fall in and out of consciousness. This is a serious medical emergency and requires immediate attention.
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Sulphur is a great skin remedy for skin afflictions when the itching is worse from becoming too warm in bed and from bathing in general. The individual may also be particularly sensitive to the touch of clothing on the sunburned skin. The skin may feel more hot in an area after scratching. Bathing, hot or cold, rarely provides any relief and may make things feel worse overall.
Pulsatilla is another remedy to consider for a sunburn. The skin will feel itchy when heated or becoming too warm and is often worse in bed like sulphur. Scratching may make the skin feel worse. Even though the pulsatilla individual may feel cold, warmth or heat also makes them feel worse. A keynote improvement for pulsatilla is that when walking in fresh, open air things feel better. When sleeping the pulsatilla patient generally wants to be uncovered to avoid overheating and aggravation of the skin. Pulsatilla is a great remedy to consider for a more typical sunburn with itchy, red skin, where the individual is bothered in bed and wants to sleep uncovered. For a sunburn, pulsatilla may be differentiated from sulphur because bathing would not adversely affect the symptom picture of the pulsatilla patient.
Apis should be considered when the skin is burned, red, itching, and stinging. There may be welts from the excessive exposure and at times the welts may appear white. The skin is worse with heat and warmth of all sorts. The discomfort may cause restlessness. There is a prickly sensation across the sun exposed areas and the itching may become intolerable. Cool air and cold bathing may provide the only relief for the apis sunburn.
I hope everyone uses sun protection and stays hydrated and cool as the weather warms up to avoid the need to any of these remedies. ~Dr. Swanz
Dr. Swanz was awarded the prestigious Daphne Blayden award for his commitment to Naturopathic Medicine, Academic Excellence, Compassion, Perseverance, a Loving Sense of Humor and a Positive, Supportive Outlook by his colleagues and staff at SCNM.
He is a Board Certified Naturopathic Physician with advanced training in classical homeopathy and nutrition. Dr. Swanz is a Fellow of the Homeopathic Association of the Naturopathic Physicians. He currently supports individuals on the journey to health through his Vital Force Naturopathy practice, integrating the best of his conventional and holistic medical training. Dr. Swanz specializes in homeopathy, pediatrics and family medicine. He is passionate about healing and is driven by the desire to see all people be the most healthy individual they can be.