August 2012 Issue
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Recommendation

Tea to the Rescue!

by Diana Rosen

Tea: not just for drinking!

Sometimes, the pure joy of water sports takes us to that special state where time is forgotten along with everyday cares. Whether you like to waterski, sail, swim or just be lazy on the beach with a great summer read, remember to use a hat, when possible; apply sunscreen every 20-30 minutes; and take shelter in the shade as often as you can.

Should time get by you, the result can often be painful sunburn. If you’re blistering or if the burn looks particularly severe, get someone to take you to the clinic or an emergency care center immediately.

If, however, it seems like a more typical case of minor overexposure to the sun, a first-degree burn, our dear leafy brew, tea is the perfect remedy. Fortunately, you don’t need to use your favorite expensive tea leaves; any inexpensive black tea leaves or tea bags will do. And, use plain black teas, not flavored, because the flavoring agents may irritate the sunburn.

Here’s what to do:
• Place 4 to 6 teabags in a quart size pitcher and pour on warm water (not boiling!)
• Cold brew the teabags by steeping them until the water is very dark, approximately 15-20 minutes. (Remember, this is for your sunburn, not your tastebuds!)
• Remove your bathing suit or, if you’ve dressed, remove all your clothes and stand in the shower or tub.
• Using a clean cloth or kitchen towel, preferably linen or cotton, soak the cloth with the brewed tea liquid.
• Gently lay the soaked cloth on the sunburned areas. Let the cloth rest on the sunburned area until you feel the burning sensation or the heat it causes start to abate at least 10 minutes and longer as necessary. Reapply the tea-soaked cloth onto the burned area several times, as necessary.
• If the sunburn affected primarily your back or the back of your legs, you may need someone to help you with this.
• If you have only small areas that are sunburned, you can apply the teabags directly onto the affected area. Repeat as needed. Use the other steps accordingly.

Follow-up Is Important!
• Drink plenty of water throughout the rest of the day.
• The tea liquid will slightly darken your skin but do not wash it off because the tea will continue to heal the skin even after it has dried.
• Do not towel dry; instead, allow the skin to air dry and go to sleep without showering.
• The next day, shower as usual using ONLY lukewarm or cool water, not hot. Hot water may irritate the sunburned area or, worse, impact nerve endings.
• If the sunburn remains sensitive, repeat the process using another clean cloth dipped into freshly cold-brewed tea. Allow the skin to air dry and do not shower again until the following day.
• This method will also alleviate itching although you can certainly apply 100% aloe vera to help speed the process.
• Do not use body lotions or other moisturizers on the sunburned area until the skin completely heals as they may irritate the skin, even those that are 100% organic or flower-based. Use only 100% aloe vera.
• Continue to hydrate all day long with water and, as desired, just one or two cups of tea. Eat water-rich foods like melons, greens, and avoid excess carbs and animal proteins like dairy and meat. The goal is to hydrate you inside and out as much as possible.

When you are healed go directly to the nearest store and stock up on sunscreen and aloe vera and faithfully use sunscreen several times while you’re by the pool or the sea. When you take a bath or shower after your water sports or sunbathing, gently blot off the water and apply aloe vera even if you have not been burned.

In general, sunscreens with either titanium oxide or zinc oxides offer exceptional physical barriers to UV sun rays on the skin. To determine whether a sunscreen is right for your type of skin, consult your physician or your dermatologist.