RX for readers: Spoiled by a sunburn

Health advice for your burning questions.

Woman with sunburn (illustrative). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Woman with sunburn (illustrative).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
I am a healthy, 23-year-old woman. I am usually very careful not to expose myself to the sun, but yesterday, I fell asleep for over an hour at the beach, without a sun umbrella, and when I woke up, I was really red from a sunburn over most of my body. I know that skin damage from ultraviolet rays is accumulative, but I wonder if there is anything I could do as a quick fix to reduce the pain and the harm that my skin suffered.
C.D., Tel Aviv
Veteran Jerusalem dermatologist Dr. Julian Schamroth replies:
A quick remedy for someone who has sunburn and has no immediate access to a doctor is to do the following: Take two 500-mg. aspirins (acetylsalicylic acid). These can be purchased at most pharmacies without a prescription, but be sure you are not allergic to the drug and have no stomach disorders.
Take a small cloth and soak it in milk and place the cloth over the sunburn for 20 minutes. I’m not exactly sure how it works. Perhaps the heat of the skin changes the milk into lactic acid, and it is the lactic acid that soothes the skin. By the way, most moisturizers contain lactic acid (Ulactin cream, Lactofil and so on).
Do not break any blisters that form on the skin, and treat any peeling skin – which is how the body eliminates the epidermal layer of damaged skin very gently.
Someone who has severe sunburn is also likely to be dehydrated from so much sun exposure. Therefore, one should drink lots of fluids.
Lastly, you should see a dermatologist within a day or two of the burn.
To prevent such a sunburn accident in the future, always apply an appropriate sunscreen frequently, protect yourself with a sun umbrella and wear light, long-sleeved clothing and a broad-brimmed hat when in the sun, even in the shade.
I am a 30-year-old man who loves to play tennis every week in the summer. My friends complain that my feet – which sweat a lot – smell very bad. I try to wear cotton socks and wash my feet carefully, but they still stink. Would regular deodorant or antiperspirant help? What else can I do?
W.B., Rehovot
Tel Aviv University emeritus Prof. Mel Rosenberg, a veteran microbiologist and expert in odors, replies:
“If your feet Ain’t sweet, I’ll bet It’s the sweat.”
Microorganisms everywhere thrive on moisture. Your feet weren’t invented to spend the entire day in socks and shoes. Let them breathe. You can apply talcum or cornflour or soak them in water with some bicarbonate of soda (some suggest vinegar as an acidic alternative). Make sure that your socks are 100-percent cotton, change them often and make sure that your shoes are in a ventilated area (if your shoes stink, there are many products you can try; I even invented one). And why not treat yourself to a pedicure once in a while? Some people sweat excessively, but unless there is a specific medical issue, I would prefer that you follow these tips rather than go for medical procedures.
I like trying natural supplements from time to time. I read on the Kickstarter site about a new supplement claimed to provide “amazing health benefits” and also to “help save our oceans and planet.” It is 100% organic hemp oil taken in capsule form. The marketers claim it is better than taking omega 3 (fish oil) capsules. They say that hemp is grown with a minimum of water and that fish need not be harvested to make the capsules. Is there any truth to this?
H.P., Ma’aleh Adumim
Dr. Menachem Oberbaum, director of the Center for Integrative Complementary Medicine at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, replies:
There are papers confirming a beneficial effect, in certain pathological conditions (such as atopic dermatitis), of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), which is contained in hempseed oil. On the other hand, other papers found PUFA to have only a minor effect, while some don’t see any effect at all.
From the research I have seen, it could be concluded that the majority of analyzed vegetable oils are characterized by a higher amount of PUFAs, with especially higher amounts of n-6 PUFAs, and that they should not be used as oils for daily consumption, but rather as oils to supplement specific PUFAs. The majority of them exceed the recommended intake. Statistical analyses have not confirmed any direct significant relationship between coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease mortality, and intakes of total fats in various countries. Studies focused on the relationship between total fats and PUFA intakes, and coronary heart diseases and cardiovascular diseases, have to be multifactorial because the presence of many environmental factors and personal conditions that have simultaneous impacts on the human metabolic pathways.
Thus, to summarize: There is no evidence of a clear benefit from any of the vegetable oils. No one of them has been proven to be more efficient than the others, and all of them have to be used cautiously.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 9100002, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or email it to [email protected], giving your initials, age and place of residence.