What Are Sunburn Boosters?

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With all the sunscreen advertisements, news, and campaigns against skin cancer, any person should know that getting frequent sunburns is a serious health matter. A total of six sunburns during the early years of a person’s life increase his or her risk of incurring melanoma in the future, not to mention, premature skin aging.

The earth we live in is not the same anymore. The ozone layer that once protected us already has been damaged. This makes the sun’s rays more damaging than ever and everyone is encouraged to take the necessary precautions. The average Joe basically knows the drill about sun protection which is the following – putting on sunblock lotion with SPF 15 or higher is required in all seasons, reapplying sunscreen after an hour or two is a must, avoiding too much sun exposure during its peak hours decreases the chances of getting burned, and wearing appropriate clothing or accessories to protect oneself from heat proves to be helpful.

However, these are not enough. There are instances wherein a person swears to follow these sun protection rules but still end up with bad sunburn. What could have possibly gone wrong? You can blame it on sunburn boosters. These are things that increase the skin’s photosensitivity. At times, these items are the last things you’ll suspect to have caused your sunburn.

So, how do sunburn boosters spoil your attempt for sun protection? Ultraviolet rays from the sun or even in tanning beds react to certain substances in the body that cause the skin to burn quicker. Sunburn boosters contain these substances or chemicals, and once eaten or applied and absorbed in the body, the skin becomes photosensitized. This makes the skin burn even after having been exposed to the sun in less than 15 minutes.

The three most common sunburn boosters are food, cosmetics and medicine. If you’re planning for an activity that includes staying out in the sun for a long time, then you should take note of the more specific items that fall under the three categories.

First is food. Probably the most unassuming foods to increase your sensitivity to sunlight are these green vegetables – celery, parsnip, fennel, dill and parsley. You have read it right! The common denominator in these vegetables and herbs are psoralen compounds that are known for its high UV absorbance. Keep in mind to leave these out of your diet if you want to dare the heat without getting scorched.

A more obvious photosensitizing food items are lemon and lime. Drinking a glass of lemonade or margarita won’t cause any harm but spilling the juice of these citrus fruits on your skin or allowing your skin to get in contact with the peels might cause the damage. Lemons and limes are natural astringents and they are usually used as home remedies for acne and oily skin. But, its acid content can make your home remedy backfire if you’re not going to be careful.

Next are cosmetics which include skin care treatments and products that are meant for beauty but can also harm the skin because of its photosensitizing effects. First on the list are common spa treatments such as microdermabrasion, chemical peel, exfoliating facials and laser treatments. There is a reason why doctors inform their patients to avoid too much sun exposure for a few weeks after undergoing these skin treatments. Other cosmetics include acne solutions that contain benzoyl peroxide, skin care products like creams and toners with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, Retin-A, hydrocortisone and fruit acids (AHA and BHA).

Some perfumes are also considered sunburn boosters. Common scents that increase sun sensitivity are lavender, cedar, sandalwood, Balsam of Peru and Rose Bengal. Surprisingly, there are sunscreen brands that can leave you unprotected as well because of their chemical contents. So, when purchasing sunscreens, make sure that it does not contain PABA or para-aminobenzoic acid, salicylates and benzophenones. On the other hand, pick out the ones that use avobenzone, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as its main ingredients against harmful UV rays. A high count of sun protection factor helps a lot too.

Lastly, certain medications are known to give a side-effect of increased sensitivity to sunlight. It is recommended that you consult your doctor or pharmacist regarding this. But to give you a rundown, here are some of the common drugs that are known sunburn boosters: anti-inflammatory drugs, chemotherapy medication, antibiotics, anti-depressants, anti-psychotic drugs, medicines for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, Accutane and some herbal medicines such as St. John’s Wort.


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