Even if you have pool-side savvy and the diligence to reapply your sunblock, it happens—you get a sunburn. (Hey, sometimes you miss a spot, sometimes your SPF washes away after spending too long catching waves…)
What comes next is a period of uncomfortableness (or, worst case: straight-up pain), due to too much sun. What to do? You can always reach for a cooling aloe vera gel to soothe the heat radiating from your skin—or you might actually help relieve your burn simply by taking a supplement, new research shows.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, vitamin D—when ingested right after getting a sunburn—can help with the inflammation that comes along with the damage, reducing redness and swelling.
To research this, scientists from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine took 20 healthy adults and exposed them to a dose of ultraviolet radiation. Some received a vitamin D supplement, while others took a placebo, one hour after the exposure. Their skin was then measured with biopsies 24, 48, and 72 hours post-burn, and researchers found that the participants who took vitamin D had less severe skin damage—AKA their sunburns healed much faster.
Also of note? The study discovered increased gene expression related to skin-barrier repair, while the placebo group showed a pro-inflammatory response (in other words: ouch).
The only caveat is that the dosage was 200,000 IU of the vitamin—way higher than the typical recommended dose. The National Institutes of Health advises adults to have about 600 IU per day—so maybe save the extra vitamin D for really painful occasions.
Of course, all the dermatologists in the world would want us to reapply sunscreen often.The best way to stop inflammation is to keep it from happening in the first place.