Friday, July 5, 2013

(Don't) Feel the Burn: Remedies for Sun, Material and Chemical Damage

On the East Coast this last week (or maybe two? the days have drizzled together) we've been inundated with rain and clouds. The sunscreen sits lonely on the shelf.

(A side bar about sunscreen. Did you know that you need to choose your sun protection with the same care that you do your food, or medicine? Not all sunscreens are created equal- or effective. Check out this link for the warnings and recommendations:

But in the next few days, I hear the sun will be out and the digital mercury will be rising. Skin will burn, and you might consider adding a homeopathic remedy - in addition to topical applications- to help skin repair and heal from the damage.

Mild, first degree burns 

A first-degree burn is characterized by redness, slight inflammation, and a sensation of pain.  Spreading aloe vera (best if right from the plant) is especially soothing and healing.

Find a good quality calendula tincture (best if alcohol free) and add a few drops to a small bowl of warm water. Yes- warm water on a burn will initially intensify the sensation, but then it will dissipate (warm water is homeopathic to a burn). Calendula is go-to for any skin trauma and promotes rapid healing. (Note- warm water is good for the first degree, surface burns and should not be used for second and third degree burns.) 

Homeopathically, urtica urens will help when the skin is unbroken and unblistered. Burns may also be itchy. Also good for burns with scalding or hot water, but again, more mild with unbroken skin. See recommendations below for more serious burns.

Start with a 30c, two doses within an hour, and then every 3-4 hours as needed.

A dose of aconite 30c is called for if a bout of chills follows a few hours after exposure. For example, a day out on the beach with the kids, they get a sunburn, and then later that night you find them chilled.

Second and Third Degree Burns

More serious burns can happen from a variety of sources. Certainly many of us have had sunburns so
bad that they blistered, which takes it to the designation of 'second degree'- that is, it has burned through the second layer of skin. In addition to blisters, there is intense redness with severe pain and swelling.
Second degree burns are still treated as 'mild' if they are less than three inches in diameter, and do not occur on the face, hands, feet, groin, buttocks, or a major joint. Traditional medical sources recommend immediate emergency care in such situations.

Burns are a potential injury at anytime, however long days at the beach or multiple sugar-hopped kids
around a campfire, open pots of boiling water on the campstove, and setting off fireworks are specific summer events that provide ample opportunity for an accident resulting in serious burns.

Response and Treatment
1) Make sure that you are out of the burn area. Walk away from the campfire, stove, or wherever the accident occurred.
2) Consider giving an immediate dose of aconite 30c, especially if you are dealing with a child who is scared and shocked by whatever happened- a pot of water spilled, a coal jumped the fire, etc... Aconite will help facilitate some calm.
3) Cold water applications. Avoid straight ice or ice-packs directly on the skin. Submerge a towel or t-shirt in cold water and wrap around the icepack, or ice, or just apply directly.


RemedyBurn looks better with... the patient feels... specific situations
arsenicum albumserious 2nd, even 3rd degree burns,potentially even blackened skin warmth- feels internally cold and avoids the cold compressrestless, anxious, deep chills, and exhaustion
cantharis ves.2nd/3rd degree, very painful, red, burning, cold- must have cold on all the time. no specific mental with burnsburns to inside of mouth, throat; chemical burns, acid burns
causticum2nd degree, raw, difficulty healingcold, cold and damp may be restless and sensitive mentally. The skin never really heals, there are cracks and even ulcersthroat, tongue, effects of deep burns. "Never well since.." an old burn

For new burns start with the cantharis and follow my general recommendations for acutes- two doses of 30c within an hour, and then re-dose every 2-3 hours as needed.
If you see the emergence of restlessness, anxiety and a desire for warmth, then give a few doses of arsenicum. 
I put causticum on the chart not so much as a first-aid remedy, but to share how a homeopathic remedy can help with the long-lasting effects of past accidents and trauma. Maybe you know someone who suffered a burn in the past and could use causticum. 

There are other remedies for the effects of burns- ulceration, neuropathy (nerve damage), etc.. but they are best treated by a homeopath. Conventional medical practitioners may say that nothing can be done after a certain point, but not so!

Before I wrap up-

Third degree burns extend through all the tissue layers and there's a risk of permanent tissue damage, particularly if the burn extends through muscle to bone and fat layers. In place of redness, skin may be charred black or white.

If you find yourself in a situation where a third-degree burn has occurred, then I would head immediately for the aconite and the ER. But definitely follow -up with professional homeopathic treatment to speed healing, recovery, and help avoid secondary affections and infections.

Do you have any questions about treating burns? Have you used homeopathy effectively for a burn? Share it below in the comments and have a safe summer :)

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