Sunburn treatment can be a real bitch. Obviously you know youâ€™re not supposed to actually get a sunburn in the first place, but letâ€™s face it: sometimes yoursunscreen routine falls off its game. When that happens, not only do you increase your risk of skin cancer, youâ€™re also left to deal with painful, red, swollen skin for days. But science may have just discovered a sunburn treatment that doesn’t involve a massive bottle of aloe vera.
According to a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, popping a vitamin D supplement right after your skin gets scorched, could make a big difference in how bearable your burn is. For the study, researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine teamed up with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center to test the effects of vitamin D on the sunburn healing process.
An hour after giving participants small sunburns using a UV lamp, the researchers gave them either a placebo pill, or a dose of 50,000, 100,000 or 200, 000 IU of vitamin D. Next, they collected skin biopsies of the burn 24, 48, and 72 hours later and a final biopsy after one week.
They found that the participants who had taken the 200,000 IU vitamin D supplement had less redness, swelling and skin inflammation 48 hours after being burned. But on top of that, the researchers also measured a boost in gene activity associated with skin barrier repair. In other words, taking vitamin D can help your sunburn heal faster.
Itâ€™s worth noting, this is a super high dose of D. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult only needs about 600 IU per day. In other words, taking 200,000 IU is a massive supplement. “Overdosage of Vitamin D is associated with accumulation of calcium in the body and can be harmful to you health,” Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of clinical and cosmetic research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Allure. “But this comes from chronic use rather than a single dose.” According to the study, these single doses are safe so long as you aren’t supplementing like this on the regular.
The current study only tested 20 participants, but it’s still compelling, says Zeichner, who wasn’t involved with the study. “Given this new information, I will be updating my treatment recommendations to patients to include Vitamin D supplements along with supportive skin care for sunburns,” he says. To get the best results for faster absorption, take vitamin D with food, he adds.
Of course, the best way to treat a sunburn is to prevent it. “Begin by using broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30, wearing sun protective hats, glasses, and clothing, and staying in the shade when possible,” says Zeichner. Follow this advice and glopping on sticky aloe vera to treat your sunburns may be a thing of the past.