Medical News Today: How long does a sunburn take to heal?

Sunburn is an obvious sign that skin has been damaged by too much sun, and it can take time for the body to repair itself. How long does sunburn last? How should skin be cared for as it heals?

The sun gives off rays of light that are absorbed by the outer layer of the skin, but too much exposure to these rays can be harmful. Tanning, burning, and peeling is how the body acts to protect the skin and repair the damage.

Sunburn can be painful and unsightly, but it does not last forever. How long sunburn lasts will depend on how severe it is and on certain risk factors.

Sunburn can be serious and always causes damage to the skin, so it is vital that a person protects their skin from the sun. If someone does get burned, there are several ways to lessen the discomfort and to look after the skin as it heals.

What is sunburn?

Sunburn on a mans back
Sunburn may be painful and too much sun exposure can be harmful.

Sunburn is the skin’s response to ultraviolet (UV) light damage. Symptoms vary from redness as the body sends blood into small veins near the skin, to peeling when the skin gets rid of dead and damaged skin cells.

Someone does not need to be out in the sun for a long time to get sunburned, and people can burn even on an overcast day.

UV radiation from the sun may be invisible to the naked eye, but UVA and UVB rays have a visible impact when the skin tans and burns.

UVA rays are long wave light. Although they are less intense than UVB rays, they penetrate the skin deeper and can cause damage over time.

UVB rays do not penetrate the skin as deeply, damaging the cells closer to the surface to turn it red and cause a sunburn.

Read on to find out more about the damage that sunburn does to the skin, how long it might last, and how to ease the symptoms.

How long does sunburn last?

People may not realize immediately that they have sunburn, as symptoms usually start around 4 hours after the skin is exposed to the sun.

Sunburn is a sign that the body is trying to repair damaged skin, and this can take time. How long it lasts will depend on how severe the sunburn is:

  • Mild sunburn will continue for approximately 3 days.

  • Moderate sunburn lasts for around 5 days and is often followed by peeling skin.

  • Severe sunburn can last for more than a week, and the affected person may need to seek medical advice.

The immediate symptoms of the skin feeling hot, looking red, and feeling sore, will usually worsen 24–36 hours after exposure to the sun.

Pain is often at its worst 6–48 hours after burning.

If the skin is going to peel, it will usually start to happen 3–8 days after sun exposure.

Although the immediate effects of sunburn should heal within days or weeks, the damage can have a much longer-lasting impact. 

UVA rays damage the gene-coding DNA in the body’s skin cells. The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that this damage could be a key cause of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

UVA and UVB rays can also affect the appearance of the skin, causing aging, wrinkles, and brown age spots.

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Sunburn risk factors

Girl with freckles and blue eyes
Having freckles and red hair, a family history of skin cancer, and having very pale skin may be risk factors for sunburn.

Everyone can be at risk of sunburn, no matter how dark or light their skin tone. However, there are certain risk factors that might make someone more likely to burn. These include:

  • having very pale skin

  • having freckles or red hair

  • skin problems relating to a medical condition, such as psoriasis

  • taking medication that makes skin more sensitive to sun

  • a family history of skin cancer

  • having a number of moles

  • being in a hot country or at a high altitude where the sun is more intense

Children’s skin needs greater protection from the sun. Babies under the age of 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight.

When to see a doctor

Someone should seek medical advice if they have burned a large area of the skin on their body, feel unwell, or have any of the following symptoms:

  • dehydration

  • a high fever

  • severe burns on more than 15 percent of the body

  • extreme pain that lasts more than a day

  • signs of infection in blisters, such as swelling, redness, or warmth

  • symptoms of heat exhaustion, such as nausea, vomiting, or a fast, weak pulse

Severe sunburn can sometimes require treatment in a hospital, the application of a special burn creams, or being covered with a dressing.

Treatment options

Sunburn cannot be cured, as the skin has been damaged and will have to heal itself. However, there are some ways to ease the discomfort of sunburn and help the skin to repair.

As soon as someone notices that they have sunburn, or they are starting to burn, they should get out of the sun and begin treatment to combat the sun’s effects.

A cool bath or shower, or gently applying a cool, wet cloth to the sunburn, can help to relieve some of the discomfort and begin to take the heat out of the skin.

Drinking extra water can help prevent dehydration, which may result from the body directing more fluid to the skin to help repair the damage that has been done.

Applying a moisturizer can soothe the skin and prevent it from drying out. People should choose one that has aloe vera or soy in, and that does not contain alcohol. If the sunburn is particularly bad, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream may help.

Pain relief, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help to reduce swelling and discomfort.

If the sunburn is severe, blisters may form on the skin to help it to heal and to prevent infection. People should not pop blisters. If they do break, they should be kept clean and covered with a light dressing.

Skin often peels following a sunburn, as the body gets rid of dead and damaged cells, a process that can last for several days. Those with sunburn should never pull off the skin, but allow it to come off naturally.

People should also protect burned and peeling skin when outside, by wearing tightly woven clothing that will not let too much sun through.

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Prevention tips

Lady on a beach applying sunscreen
To prevent sunburn it is recommended to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or above and avoid the sun when its rays are strongest.

The American Skin Association advises that people stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when its rays are strongest and UV exposure is greatest.

It is possible also to get burned on a cloudy day. Sunlight reflecting off water or snow can burn, too, so people should take care when skiing or sailing.

Applying sunscreen is a necessary step in the prevention of sunburn, but there are some key points to be aware of to make sure it is effective. 

People should be sure to do the following:

  • choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above

  • make sure their sunscreen is within date

  • apply enough with most adults needing an ounce, or roughly the amount that fits in the palm

  • choose a sunscreen that is water-resistant

  • choose a sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB rays

  • apply 20–30 minutes before going into the sun, to give it time to be absorbed

  • remember areas of the body that are easily missed, such as the tops of the ears

  • use a lip balm with an SPF of 15 or above

  • reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours to remain protected

  • reapply after swimming, sweating a lot, or if the sunscreen has rubbed off

Wear long-sleeved, loose clothing that is tightly woven so that it does not let much sun through. Also, wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect the head and neck from burning.


Sunburn is not only uncomfortable and unsightly. It can have a long-lasting impact on health and skin appearance and increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Protecting skin from the sun by staying in the shade, during the hottest part of the day, using sunscreen, and wearing protective clothing, can all help to prevent sunburn and the long-term damage it can do.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone examine their skin monthly to keep an eye out for the early signs of skin cancer, such as a mole that changes color or shape. The good news is that if it is found early, skin cancer is usually easy to treat and cure.

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Medical News Today: All you need to know about neural foraminal stenosis

Neural foraminal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the small openings between each vertebra in the spine, called foramen, which nerve roots pass through.

A type of spinal stenosis, neural foraminal stenosis, does not always cause symptoms. But if a nerve gets compressed in the gap, this will be painful.

Over-the-counter pain relief, such as non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may help, and doctors can prescribe medication that can modify nerve pain.

What is neural foraminal stenosis?

Hand pointing to model of spinal column, pointing out nerves running through the vertebrae of the lumbal spine.
Nerves run through the vertebrae of the spine, up towards the brain. Neural foraminal stenosis is when these nerves get trapped in the spine.

Nerves run from all parts of the body to the spinal canal. The nerve roots pass through gaps in the vertebrae, called foramen and continue up the spinal cord to the brain.

The nervous system responds to information from the senses and triggers reactions.

For example, when a person feels pain, the nerves send information that makes the muscles move away from the source of pain, while at the same time informing the brain that there is pain.

Each nerve or neuron has a cell body and several extensions, called dendrites and an axon. The dendrites receive signals, which travel along the axon, which can be up to a meter long. All the signals reach the brain via the network of spinal neurons.

Neural foraminal stenosis occurs when the foramen of the neck (cervical stenosis), the upper part of the back (thoracic stenosis), or the lower back (lumbar stenosis), compress or narrow, trapping the nerve root.

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Not everyone with neural foraminal stenosis will develop symptoms. If a nerve gets trapped, however, the symptoms tend only to affect one side of the body and can include:

  • pain in the back or neck

  • muscle weakness

  • tingling

  • numbness or weakness in the arm, hand, or leg

  • burning sensations

  • problems walking

  • issues with balance

If the nerve root becomes compressed on both sides, both sides of the body will likely be affected. This is called bilateral foraminal stenosis.

What causes it?

Female doctor and female patient discussing results using tablet.
Neural foraminal stenosis may be caused by a range of conditions.

The risk of neural foraminal stenosis, which can be caused by general wear and tear, increases with age.

The most common cause of neural foraminal stenosis is a degenerative spine.

This expands into the foraminal canal, narrowing the spaces and openings where nerves leave between the vertebrae.

Degenerative disk

A degenerative disk is where a vertebral disc degenerates and slips out of place putting pressure on the exiting nerve. It is most common in the lumbar spine, but can also happen in the thoracic or the cervical spine.

Herniated disk

Also known as a slipped or prolapsed disk, a herniated disk means one of the discs of cartilage that sits between the vertebrae is damaged.


Spondylolisthesis is where one vertebra slides in front or back of the vertebra below it. It commonly occurs in the lumbar spine but can occur elsewhere in the spine. This can cause narrowing of the exiting nerve in the foramen.

Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis

Arthritis develops when cartilage breaks down, and this can also happen to the discs of cartilage that sit between the vertebrae


This is a bone spur growth in the back quite common in those aged over 60 and usually caused by osteoarthritis.


Repetitive trauma to the spine damages the vertebrae and cause it to slip. This is more common in athletes such as gymnasts and weightlifters. A sudden injury can also make a disc slip.

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A doctor will make the diagnosis based on a physical assessment and the results of an MRI scan. In some cases, a CT scan will be used to confirm the problem.

How is it treated?

Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition.


Senior man on static exercise bike in gym.
Usually, cycling is easier than walking for those with spinal stenosis. Cycling on a static bike for a couple of minutes a day is recommended, as a way to begin improving spinal mobility.

The British Association of Spinal Surgeons recommend improving spinal mobility and overall strength and fitness as a first step, adding that weight loss may help if applicable.

The organization add that cycling is often less painful than walking for people with spinal stenosis and suggest riding a static bike, starting with 2 to 3 minutes twice a day and building up from there.

It also suggests a person walks until they reach their pain threshold, resting, then walking a little further.

If exercise does not improve the symptoms, a doctor may recommend an epidural, which is an injection into the spinal canal. Epidurals tend to be more successful in easing leg pain than back, pain.


Studies show about 60 percent of people respond well to this kind of treatment.


If a person still experiences unbearable pain, a doctor may consider surgery. The doctor will have to take certain factors into account: These factors include:

  • the person’s general state of health, and whether they have any other conditions or health problems

  • their general fitness

  • whether the problem is in one or multiple areas of the spine

The surgical options include:

  • Interspinous distraction device: This procedure involves implanting a device in the space between the vertebrae to widen the gap and relieve pressure on the nerves.

  • Foraminotomy: A surgeon removes the bone that is causing the compression to give the nerves more room.

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Everyone responds differently to treatment. But as a general rule of thumb, 20 percent of people will improve with time while 20 percent will worsen. The remainder will stay around the same.

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Medical News Today: Benefits of fish oil for arthritis

Cod liver oil is traditionally believed to be healthful for people’s bones. But could cod liver oil and other fish oils play a role in the treatment of arthritis?

Arthritis is a common condition that affects 1 in every 5 adults in the United States and is a leading cause of disability. Arthritis affects people’s joints, either through inflammation or through cartilage degeneration.

This article explores whether fish oil could be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis and how to use it.

Does fish oil help arthritis?

fish oil capsule and fish
Fish oil and cod liver oil contain properties that may reduce inflammation.

There are two common types of arthritis, both of which can cause joint pain, stiffness, and mobility problems. These are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): An inflammatory joint disease caused by a problem in the immune system.

  • Osteoarthritis (OA): A degenerative condition that affects joint cartilage and bones.

Cod liver oil and fish oil contain high levels of two types of omega-3 fatty acids: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Researchers have found that EPA and DHA both reduce inflammation.

The role of fatty acids in reducing inflammation suggests that they may help treat RA. Researchers have also investigated whether fish oil may play a role in the treatment of OA. This research is also explored here.

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Omega-3s and arthritic inflammation

A 2012 review looked at previous studies into the benefits of fish oil for arthritis treatment. In particular, it explored the role of EPA and DHA in reducing joint swelling and pain.

The review found that there was consistent evidence that EPA and DHA from marine sources had a positive effect on joint swelling and pain. It also found that these omega-3 fatty acids helped to improve morning stiffness in the joints, another symptom of RA.

A study in 2016 found that daily supplementation with omega-3 had such a positive effect on RA that it reduced the need for analgesic medication. Analgesics are a type of pain-killing medication that is used to reduce arthritis pain.

Fish oil and osteoarthritis

According to a 2015 review of the current scientific evidence, a number of animal trials suggest that fish oil shows promise as a treatment for OA.

However, the review concluded that further studies were needed to say with certainty whether fish oil is an effective treatment for OA in humans.

Other conditions omega-3s may help

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, fish oil may also help in the treatment of other inflammatory conditions, including:

Fish oil may also help reduce certain fats that are found in the bloodstream and lower a person’s blood pressure. It has also been found to work well alongside anti-depressants in the treatment of depression.

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How to use a fish oil supplement

Mackerel is one of the fishes used in fish oil
Fish oil is made from oily fish including salmon, tuna, and mackerel.

The best way to get essential omega-3s is by eating cold-water oily fish. Supplements can be taken but are not monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for quality or purity.

Fish oil is a dietary supplement made from oily fish, including:

  • mackerel

  • tuna

  • herring

  • salmon

  • cod liver

It also contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals, including:

  • iron

  • calcium

  • vitamins B, A, and D

Fish oil is different from cod liver oil, which contains oil from pressed cod livers only. Cod liver oil contains much higher quantities of vitamins A and D than fish oil. These vitamins are usually healthful but can be harmful if consumed in large quantities.

People taking fish oil or cod liver oil for arthritis need large amounts of it to gain enough omega-3 fatty acids for them to be beneficial. As such, fish oil is a better source of omega-3 than cod liver oil, as people can consume large doses without taking in harmful levels of vitamins A and D.

Fish oil supplements can be taken as:

  • capsules

  • pastilles

  • chewable tablets

  • liquid

For both RA and OA, the Arthritis Foundation recommends taking up to 2.6 grams, twice daily. It is important to find a version of the supplement that contains at least 30 percent of the active ingredients EPA and DHA to get the most benefit.

Other fish to eat for arthritis

baked mackerel in a pan
Mackerel is considered a good source of omega-3.

Rather than taking fish oil, some people may prefer to include plenty of fish in their diet. This is another way of getting plenty of omega-3 to help with arthritis.

Good sources of omega-3 include:

  • salmon

  • tuna

  • sardines

  • mackerel

According to the Arthritis Foundation, eating a 3-6 ounce serving of one of these fish between two and four times every week helps reduce inflammation and protect the heart.

It is important that people consider the mercury content of fish they eat, as consuming too much mercury is not healthful.

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Arthritis can be painful and may lead to mobility problems. Following a doctor’s treatment plan can help people manage arthritis pain and reduce the risk of complications.

Fish oil may be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis by reducing inflammation in the joints. While the positive effects of fish oil on RA are well supported by scientific evidence, further research is needed to prove that it improves symptoms of OA.

Fish oil may interact with some anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat arthritis, so it is important for people to discuss taking it with their doctor first.

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Medical News Today: What are these white spots on my face?

Many people experience white spots on their face at some point during their lives. The affected areas may just be on the face, or they may appear on the chest or arms as well.

White spots can take different forms. They could be patches of discoloration on the face or small hard bumps.

In this article, we will examine the five main possible causes of white spots on the face. Read on for more about them, what causes them, and treatment options.

1. Milia

Milia under the right eye
Milia may occur in people of all ages and are often mistaken for whiteheads.

Milia are small round, hard, white bumps on the face that are often mistaken for whiteheads. They develop when keratin — a protein found in the upper layer of skin — and other dead skin cells components get trapped below the skin surface.

The most common areas for milia to appear are around the eyes, the cheeks, and on the nose.

Milia can occur at all ages in both men and women. They occur most often in very young babies, and the condition is also called milk spots.


Milia can be triggered by an allergic reaction to harsh products, by face cream that is irritating, and by sun damage.


Milia usually get better without treatment within a few weeks. Dermatologists recommend not squeezing or piercing the bumps at home.

A change in face cream or other products that might have caused a reaction may help. A good skincare routine, including dead skin removal with exfoliants and wearing sun protection cream, is also advisable for adults.

If the condition does not improve on its own, a doctor or dermatologist can treat milia in a variety of ways:

  • Lancing. The doctor or dermatologist will use a medical-grade fine needle to extract the keratin.

  • Applying a retinoid cream. People can use this on their face but not around their eyes.

  • Microdermabrasion. This is a procedure which removes the uppermost layers of the affected area.

  • Skin peel. A treatment that removes the top layer of skin and can be used to remove milia.

Milia is not a dangerous condition and causes no discomfort, pain, or stinging.

If the white bumps do not disappear on their own, or if a person finds them unsightly, talk to a doctor about having them removed.

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2. Pityriasis alba

Pityriasis alba is thought to be a type of eczema. It appears as pale pink or red, scaly areas on the skin, which clear to smooth white (hypopigmented) patches.

There can be as many as 20 patches, often on the face and arms. Pityriasis alba is more noticeable on people with dark skin or after sun exposure.

The condition is mostly found in children and adolescents, with 5 percent of children worldwide developing the condition at some point.


Doctors do not know what causes pityriasis alba.


The patches usually disappear within a few months but can last up to a few years. There is no specific treatment for pityriasis alba, but a doctor may treat any symptoms of itching or discomfort with a steroid or non-steroid cream.

If the patches start to itch or feel uncomfortably dry, a person should consult a doctor.

3. Vitiligo

Vitiligo on a ladies left hand
Vitiligo may occur in people of all skin colors and might be inherited.

Vitiligo appears as patches of skin that have lost their color pigment. It can occur anywhere on the body, including the face. It affects around 1 percent of people worldwide.

The white patches may start small and sometimes remain this way, but they can also slowly increase until the patch covers a large part of the body. Occasionally, some color may return to the affected area but rarely completely.

Vitiligo can occur at any age, but around half of the people with the condition develop it before their 20s.


Anyone can get vitiligo, though the chances increase somewhat if someone else in the family has it. The factor of inheritance has yet to be fully understood, so the children of a person who has vitiligo will not necessarily develop it as well.

Vitiligo occurs in people of all skin colors, but it is most noticeable on black skin. It is not contagious.

Skin cells make a pigment called melanin, which gives the skin its color. Some scientists believe that the skin affected by vitiligo develops when the body forms an antibody against melanin and destroys it.


There are several possible treatments for vitiligo. The type offered depends on the severity of the condition.

People with vitiligo should wear sunscreen at all times and cover-up in the sun as the affected skin will burn more easily.

If a person wants, they can use colored skin creams to hide areas of vitiligo, and a doctor will be able to recommend the best creams available.

The doctor may also recommend anti-inflammatory creams, such as a higher strength corticosteroid, to help restore missing pigment.

Long-term use of corticosteroids, however, can bring undesirable side effects, such as thinning of the skin, so doctors may prescribe other types of anti-inflammatory creams.

Artificial ultraviolet (UV) light treatment or phototherapy may be used, often over a period of several months. Laser treatment may also be used to treat some skin areas.

Surgical treatments are being developed but are not yet common practice.

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4. Pityriasis versicolor

Pityriasis versicolor (also called tinea versicolor)
An overgrowth of yeast on the skin may change its color, causing pityriasis versicolor.

Pityriasis versicolor is a common condition, due to a yeast infection, that causes lighter or darker patches on the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body and may itch or feel dry or scaly.

Sometimes, the spots are tiny and sometimes only noticeable when the skin is tanned.

Pityriasis versicolor is more commonly found in adolescents and younger adults and frequently in the tropics and sub-tropical areas. In temperate climates, the discolored patches may disappear in the cooler months.


Over 90 percent of adults have a yeast called Malassezia living on their skin. It is a natural occurrence and does not usually cause any problems.

Sometimes, however, the yeast overgrows. When this happens, it changes the color of the skin, thus causing pityriasis versicolor. This can be due to several factors, such as:

  • hot and humid weather

  • oily skin

  • a weak immune system

  • hormonal changes

Pityriasis versicolor can occur during pregnancy but poses no danger. One study showed that the yeast that causes pityriasis versicolor was more abundant during the later stages of pregnancy and right after the birth.


There are a variety of different ways to successfully treat tinea versicolor. The patches may take some months to return to their former color, and sun cream should be used to protect the skin from the sun.

Medications that can help include:

  • anti-fungal creams and lotions applied to the skin

  • a medicated anti-fungal cleanser that will help the yeast growing out of control

  • anti-fungal pills prescribed by a doctor if the pityriasis versicolor covers a large area of the body.

It is possible that pityriasis versicolor can return even after treatment, especially if the person travels to hot and humid climates.

5. Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis

Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis, also known as white sun spots, causes flat white spots that can be 1 to 10 millimeters in diameter.

These spots can occur on the face, arms, upper back, and the shins. Although they are most often develop in people with fair skin, people with dark skin can develop them as well.

The spots are not harmful.


Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis appears to occur in relation to prolonged exposure to the sun over time. However, the reason why there is a decrease in melanin in the affected areas is not yet known.

This skin condition appears more frequently in people over the age of 40, but this is likely to be due to the length of time the condition takes to develop.


No treatment is needed or available to remove the condition.

Steroid creams, camouflage creams, and dermabrasion can reduce the appearance of the spots.

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Many of these common conditions can be treated easily. Most conditions that cause white spots on the face are also harmless.

If anyone has any concerns about the appearance of white spots on their face, for health or cosmetic reasons, they should speak to a healthcare professional. They will be able to offer reassurance and treatment advice if necessary.

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Medical News Today: How does arthritis affect the eyes?

Arthritis is often thought of as inflammation of the joints. But the condition can cause problems in other, more unexpected areas, such as the eyes.

Around 1 in 5 people over the age of 18 years are diagnosed with some form of arthritis. The disease can affect people of any age, race, or gender and have a serious impact on their quality of life.

Rheumatoid arthritis, in particular, has been shown to affect the eyes.

Those people who do have eye problems are usually affected in both eyes. The majority of people who experience arthritis-related eye problems are women. These eye problems tend to worsen as arthritis progresses.

Eye conditions linked with arthritis

Several eye conditions are associated with different forms of arthritis.

Keratitis sicca

Senior person's eyes.
Various eye conditions may be linked to different forms of arthritis, incuding dry eye syndrome, cataracts, and conjuctivitis.

Keratitis sicca, commonly known as dry eye syndrome, is when the eyes stop producing enough tears to keep them moist. It affects women more commonly than men.

Causes include:

  • rheumatoid arthritis

  • secondary Sjogren’s syndrome


  • dryness

  • a sensation of something in the eye

  • blurred vision


  • controlling arthritic inflammation with arthritis medication

  • topical ointment used at night

  • artificial tears or eye drops to keep the eyes moist

  • running a humidifier in the bedroom at night

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Scleritis is inflammation of the sclera, or the white part of the eye. It can lead to the sclera or the cornea becoming too thin, which can cause the eye to rupture.

Scleritis is often an indication that a person’s inflammation is out of control and their arthritis treatment may need to be adjusted.

Causes include:

  • rheumatoid arthritis inflammation

  • other autoimmune diseases, such as relapsing polychondritis and granulomatosis

  • infections


  • redness that does not go away despite over-the-counter eye drops

  • severe pain

  • sensitivity to light

  • reduced vision


  • oral corticosteroids

  • other oral or intravenous medications to reduce inflammation


Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea, the vascular area of the eye found between the retina and the sclera.

Causes include:


  • pain

  • redness

  • blurred vision

  • sensitivity to light

  • risk of permanent vision loss, particularly in children


  • corticosteroid eye drops

  • oral corticosteroid or corticosteroid injection into the eye

  • antibiotics if an infection occurs

Children with psoriatic arthritis should be screened for uveitis frequently, as symptoms may not appear until the eyesight is permanently damaged.


Woman having eye vision test at opticians.
Any issues with vision, or changes in the eye or the skin around the eye, should be reported to a doctor or an optician.

Cataracts occur when inflammation of the eyeball causes the lens to cloud over. The lens is in a healthy eye is usually clear.

Causes include:

  • rheumatoid arthritis

  • ankylosing spondylitis

  • psoriatic arthritis

  • use of oral or topical steroid


  • cloudy or blurred vision

  • poor vision at night

  • colors appearing faded


  • surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial one


Glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve that occurs because of high pressure inside the eye. If the channels that usually drain fluid from the eye become inflamed, pressure can build up.

Causes include:

  • ankylosing spondylitis

  • juvenile idiopathic arthritis

  • other types of inflammatory arthritis

  • side effect of corticosteroid therapy for arthritis


  • no symptoms in the early stages

  • pain

  • blurred vision

  • blank spots in vision

  • seeing a rainbow-colored halo around lights


  • eye drops

  • surgery to lower pressure

  • reducing or avoiding corticosteroid use

Retinal vascular occlusion

If the blood vessels leading to the retina become blocked, it can cause retinal vascular occlusion.

Causes include:


  • a blind spot in a person’s vision

  • vision loss that comes and goes suddenly

  • gradual vision loss


  • laser surgery to reduce swelling and restore vision if a vein is blocked

If an artery is blocked, some doctors will attempt to lower the pressure in the eye to help save a person’s vision. However, the damage is usually permanent as there is no proven effective treatment.

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Conjunctivitis is inflammation or infection of the lining of the eyelids and the white of the eyes. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases believe that having arthritis is a risk factor for conjunctivitis.

Causes include:

  • reactive arthritis or inflammation caused by an infection


  • red eye or inner lid

  • increased amount of tears

  • yellow discharge that crusts around the eye

  • itchy or burning eyes


  • antibiotics

  • steroids to help with inflammation

Types of arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis in a woman's hands and fingers.
Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by the immune system attacking healthy cells in the body.

While there are around 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases, not all of them are linked to eye conditions. The two most common types linked with eye problems are rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is known as an autoimmune disease, which is when the body is attacked by its own immune system. Rather than protecting the person from bacteria and viruses, rheumatoid arthritis makes the immune system become overactive and attack healthy tissues.

Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the lining of the joints. Over time, the inflammation will damage the joints permanently and cause severe pain.

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that is closely associated with the symptoms of psoriasis. It can also affect connective tissue and the skin.

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Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs when the protective cartilage between the joints breaks down, making movement more difficult and painful.

The joints rubbing together can be extremely painful, but the symptoms and severity of OA vary from person to person.


Fibromyalgia is known as a central pain syndrome, which means that the brain and the spinal cord process pain signals differently in people affected by it.

Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain, which can be constant or intermittent. It can also cause fatigue, problems sleeping and concentrating, and mood swings.


Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis. It occurs when the body produces uric acid that forms crystals in the joints. The crystals cause pain and inflammation and often affect the big toe, although gout can occur in other joints also.

When to see a doctor

If a person with arthritis is experiencing any changes in their vision, or they are concerned that their eyes are being affected, they should see an eye doctor, as soon as possible.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further damage to the eyes and permanent vision loss.

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Medical News Today: Tips to control crying

Uncontrollable crying can be upsetting, uncomfortable, embarrassing, and exhausting. Understanding what causes crying, and learning how to control it is often a huge relief.

Sometimes, people have the urge to cry when they don’t want to and while it is important to note that there is nothing wrong with crying, there are some ways to control and prevent it from happening.

It is important to remember that crying could be a sign of a deeper problem, and if anyone suspects this is the case, they should visit their doctor.

Types of crying

eye crying two tears
Basal tears are 98 percent water and emotional tears contain proteins and hormones.

There are three kinds of tears that humans can produce, each of them has a different purpose.

Basal tears

Basal tears make sure the eyes do not dry out and are always present in the eyes. Humans produce around 5 to 10 ounces of basal tears each day.

Reflex tears

Reflex tears are produced to help protect the eye. If smoke or dust gets into the eye, or it is irritated, the nerves in the cornea send a message to the brain and reflex tears occur.

Emotional tears

Emotional tears. When a person is feeling emotional, the cerebrum (the front part of the brain) registers that emotion and a hormone is triggered causing emotional type tears to form.

What are tears made of?

Tears are made up of protein, water, mucus, and oil. However, their content will vary depending on what kind of tears they are. Basal tears, for example, are 98 percent water, where emotional tears contain several different chemicals, proteins, and hormones.

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How much crying is too much?

man crying with black background
There are no rules on crying too much, but any crying that affects everyday life should be referred to a healthcare professional.

There is no rule about how much crying is too much, and whether it is a problem depends on how an individual feels personally, and whether bouts of crying affect daily activities, relationships, and other aspects of everyday life.

Crying is normal, as are many of the reasons for crying. Some common reasons why a person might cry are:

  • frustration

  • fear

  • receiving bad news

  • missing someone

  • empathy

  • sad memories

  • anger

  • shock

  • feeling overwhelmed

  • a relationship breakdown

  • happiness

Tips for controlling crying

Mental approaches

1. Walk away

Walking away from a situation, it can be a helpful way to stop getting worked up and bursting into tears. Getting too angry, upset, or frustrated can cause crying so removing themselves and returning when calmer can help a person regain control.

2. Use words

Failure to communicate properly can lead to anger and frustration, which can trigger the urge to cry. Learning how to express feelings clearly, staying calm, and using words can help to keep tears at bay.

3. Have props and use distractions

Having something to scribble on, a stress ball, or something to look at visually may be of use when heading into a situation that could trigger crying. Distraction is another popular technique. Focusing on an activity or task, listening to uplifting music or starting a conversation can also be helpful.

4. Think about something positive or funny instead

Try to replace negative thoughts with positive ones or think about something funny or silly instead. Seeing the lighter, funnier side to a stressful situation can make things easier and stop someone from crying so easily.

Physical approaches

5. Concentrate on breathing

Taking a deep breath and focusing on breathing slowly and calmly can help regain control.

6. Blink and move the eyes

Moving the eyes around and blinking back the tears can prevent them from spilling out.

7. Relaxing facial muscles

When a person cries their face tends to tense up. Focusing on the muscles in the face and relaxing them can help prevent crying.

8. Get rid of that throat lump

Emotional crying also affects the nervous system. One way it reacts is by opening up the muscle at the back of the throat (called the glottis). This feels as though a lump is forming in the throat. Sipping water, swallowing, and yawning can help make the lump go away.

9. Do some exercise

Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and is a great distraction from what is causing the upset too.

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How to avoid triggers

Man and woman chatting at a coffee shop
Talking to someone may be a recommended strategy to avoid triggers.

Avoiding triggers is about knowing the things that make a person cry and being able to identify them. This makes it easier for them to manage their emotions, as they can spot and prevent familiar thought-patterns long before reaching the point of crying.

Some strategies include:

Acknowledging feelings

Sometimes crying can be a reflex because people struggle to acknowledge how they are feeling.

Trying to understand the cause of distress and coming up with practical solutions will be more helpful than masking the problem by crying.

Modifying behavior

Behavioral modification is where a person is asked to try and focus on their thoughts and actions and identify the triggers that cause them to cry. Doing so enables them to come up with coping mechanisms to help. The more a person repeats these, the more control a person will have over their emotions.

Talking to someone

Talking to someone, whether they are a trusted friend, a family member, or a trained professional such as a therapist, can help a person work out problems, relieve stress and feel freer.

Writing it down

Some people find keeping a journal or writing their emotions down is a beneficial way to explore their feelings, find patterns, and see if there is a root cause for their problems that needs addressing.

Crying and mental health

Although crying is a normal part of life, excessive crying can be a sign of several mood or personality disorders that usually need professional help to control. Some common mood disorders are:

  • depression

  • anxiety disorder

  • Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) – intense feelings of anger or sudden, unexplained laughter or crying

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While it is perfectly normal and acceptable to cry, if a person suspects they cry more than normal or crying is getting in the way of their daily life, they should seek help and advice from a medical professional.

If they are considering harming themselves or others then seeking immediate help by calling 911, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255, or confiding in a trusted adult is the best course of action.

Crying in itself can sometimes be helpful and make a person feel much better so people should not try to hide tears, bury emotions, or suffer alone.

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Medical News Today: What is causing the pain in my shoulder blade?

Shoulder blade pain is a very common experience, with causes ranging from simple strains to serious conditions, such as heart attacks or liver problems.

Determining the cause of shoulder blade pain can be difficult. People experiencing shoulder blade pain need to know the possible reasons for the pain and what precautions to take.

In this article, we examine a variety of different causes of pain around the shoulder blades, along with what can be done to treat each problem.


woman with shoulder pain - skeleton showing
There can be various reasons for pain in the shoulder blades.

The shoulder blades are the triangular bones on the back of the shoulders, medically known as the scapulae.

Each shoulder blade connects the upper arm bone to the collarbone and has three groups of muscles attached to it. These muscles help move the shoulder joint.

The shoulder has a wide range of motion. The muscles that connect the shoulder blade allow the shoulder to rotate, move in a circle, move up and down, and side to side.

As the shoulder can move in so many ways, it is easy to injure, which can cause shoulder blade pain.

Unfortunately, shoulder blade pain is not often as simple as injury-related pain. In some cases, shoulder blade pain is caused by pain from a nearby organ in distress.

Possible causes

There is any number of potential causes of shoulder blade pain. In some cases, a person may be able to figure out what is causing their pain.

A few examples of causes that may be obvious to a person include:

  • trauma from a hit, fall, or car accident

  • sleeping in an uncomfortable or odd position

  • strain from lifting a heavy object

Other times, the cause of the pain may be more difficult to determine.

Some conditions cause what is called referred pain. Referred pain is pain that occurs in the shoulder blades but is due to a problem in another part of the body.

Some potential causes of referred pain in the shoulder blades include:

Some causes are more likely to cause pain in one shoulder over the other. For example, a heart attack will more likely cause pain in the left shoulder blade. Gallbladder disease is more likely to cause pain in the right shoulder blade.

By contrast, a strain may occur in either shoulder blade depending on where the injury occurred.

Causes may fit into several different categories. Some of the causes are listed below.

Bone and joint issues

There are several potential bone or joint problems that can cause shoulder blade pain.

As the shoulder blade is a bone, it is possible for a person to experience a fracture. This is an unlikely occurrence in most cases, as it requires a fall, a car accident, or a similar direct injury to the shoulder blade.

As a person ages, degenerative conditions may cause shoulder blade pain. Some of these conditions include:

Certain cancers may also cause pain in the shoulders and shoulder blades. The most common cancers that cause shoulder blade pain include lung, breast, and colon cancer.

Musculoskeletal causes

It is very common for a person to experience a musculoskeletal issue that causes shoulder blade pain. Overuse, strains, sleeping badly, and rotator cuff issues all fall into this category.

These problems are often linked with pain in the muscle groups surrounding the shoulders, including some of the arm muscles.

Cardiac causes

One of the more serious causes of shoulder blade pain is heart-related problems. Doctors have noted that localized pain in the left shoulder is a sign of a heart attack, particularly in women.

Women experiencing pain in the shoulder blade that cannot be explained by a musculoskeletal problem should seek out medical attention quickly.

Other heart conditions that may cause shoulder blade pain include:

  • a tear in the aorta

  • inflammation of the lining of the heart

Pulmonary causes

Certain lung conditions may also cause referred pain in the shoulder blades. Some examples of lung conditions include:

  • cancer that grows on the top part of the lungs

  • clots that travel from the legs to the lungs

  • collapsed lung

Abdominal causes

There are a few conditions that occur in the abdomen that may cause shoulder blade pain. Issues with the abdomen area that may cause shoulder blade pain include:

  • surgery

  • nerve pain

  • peptic ulcer disease

  • pancreatitis

  • liver disease

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When to see a doctor

woman holding chest
Immediate medical attention should be sought for unexplained pain in the left shoulder blade accompanied by shortness of breath or chest pain.

In many cases, a person can trace shoulder blade pain back to a seemingly harmless incident, such as a recent fall or an occasion when they lifted too much weight.

It may be less evident to a person who slept badly, but warning signs include sleeping on one side for too long or having recently switched mattresses.

People who are unable to explain a pain in their shoulder blade should see their doctor.

Women should be particularly wary of any pain in the left shoulder blade as it could be a sign of a heart attack, and they should seek out immediate attention from a doctor.

A person may also wish to see a doctor in the case of a strain as the doctor may be able to recommend additional treatment.

Symptoms that signal a need for immediate attention include:

  • chest pain

  • shortness of breath

  • rapid or irregular heartbeat

  • sudden difficulty speaking

  • lightheadedness

  • pain, swelling, or redness in the legs

  • coughing up blood

  • fever

  • vision problems

  • paralysis on one side of the body

  • excessive sweating

  • loss of consciousness


A doctor will need to examine a person to work out what is causing the shoulder blade pain. Normal diagnosis starts with an interview in which the doctor will try to work out if there is any simple reason for the pain.

Once the doctor has ruled out simple causes, they may perform some different assessments.

These tests may include:

  • heart tests, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) or stress test

  • abdominal tests, such as endoscopy

  • blood work that tests for liver function

  • radiological studies of the chest and back using an MRI or CAT scan

Treatment options

man stretching arms and shoulders
Stretching may help to ease shoulder blade pain.

Treatment depends largely on the exact cause of the pain.

For simple cases of overuse, strain, or sleeping poorly, a person may be able to try a range of treatments from home. These may include:

  • rest

  • ice

  • over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen

  • medicated rubs and ointments

  • stretching

  • massages

Where there is an underlying disorder, treatment relies on treating the underlying cause. For example, cancer may require radiation, chemotherapy, or other therapies. Heart conditions may need medications that target heart problems.

When a person knows the cause of the shoulder blade pain, treatment is likely to be more effective.

If treatment is not working, however, people must talk to their doctor to see whether their treatment needs changing or adjusting.

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Preventable shoulder blade pain is typically associated with trauma and overuse. Steps to take may include:

  • avoiding potential falling risks

  • wearing a seatbelt in a car

  • easing into any new workout routine

  • changing sleeping positions

Other means of prevention include:

  • eating a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients

  • getting moderate exercise

  • stretching


For simple causes, it is very likely a person will experience a full recovery with minimal medical intervention. In most of these situations, it will probably only take a few days to a few weeks for a person to experience complete symptom relief.

Where the pain is due to an underlying cause, the length of treatment and recovery time will vary greatly.

It is important to know the cause so that an effective treatment plan can be created to address the underlying issues.

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Medical News Today: Why does diabetes cause headaches?

Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot make enough of the hormone insulin, or cannot use it properly, causing glucose to build up in the blood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 29 million people in the United States have diabetes.

Diabetes does not usually cause headaches. But, while headaches are not dangerous, they may be an indication of poor blood sugar control in a person with diabetes.

Over time, periods of continuous high or low blood sugar can lead to serious and even life-threatening health complications, such as heart disease and kidney failure.

This article looks at the connection between diabetes and headaches and suggests ways to relieve diabetes-induced headaches.

Types of headache

Mature woman with a headache.
Secondary headaches are caused by existing or underlying conditions, such as diabetes.

According to the International Classification of Headache Disorders, published by the International Headache Society, there are over 150 types of headaches.

Broadly speaking, headaches can be classified as either primary or secondary:

Primary headaches are ones that are not linked to another medical condition. Examples of primary headaches include migraines and tension headaches.

Secondary headaches are caused by underlying medical conditions or health issues and include the type of headache often experienced by people with diabetes.

Other causes of secondary headaches include:

The pain associated with either primary or secondary headaches can vary in severity and duration. Some people may not experience headaches often, while others can get a headache several days each week.

Depending on the type of headache, other symptoms may be present. For example, migraines can be linked with nausea and increased sensitivity to sound or light.

Diabetes headaches tend to occur frequently and cause moderate to severe levels of pain. A severe headache is considered one that significantly affects someone’s ability to function as normal.

Why does diabetes cause a headache?

Diabetic man's hands checking blood sugar level with a glucose meter.
A person who manages their diabetes effectively may be less likely to experience headaches than someone who does not.

Not everyone with diabetes will experience headaches. People newly diagnosed with diabetes may be more likely to experience headaches because they are still working to manage their blood sugar levels.

Headaches associated with diabetes typically occur because of changes in blood sugar levels.

A headache can indicate that blood sugar levels are too high, which is referred to as hyperglycemia, or too low, which is called hypoglycemia.

The more that blood glucose levels fluctuate, the more likely it is that someone with diabetes will experience headaches. Headaches linked to these fluctuations are thought to result from changing levels of hormones, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, which may constrict the blood vessels in the brain. This constriction is called vasoconstriction.

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Hypoglycemia and headaches

Hypoglycemia is usually characterized by blood sugar levels of less than 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Hypoglycemia is a serious condition, as glucose is the primary source of fuel for the brain.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia usually appear suddenly and can be much more obvious than the symptoms of hyperglycemia.

In addition to headaches, some of the symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • anxiety

  • blurred vision

  • chills

  • confusion

  • dizziness

  • hunger

  • irritability

  • lightheadedness

  • nausea

  • racing heart

  • seizures

  • shakiness

  • sweating

  • tiredness

  • unconsciousness

  • weakness

Hypoglycemia can occur in people with diabetes if they take too much insulin or if they do not eat enough carbohydrates. It is important to manage diabetes carefully and treat symptoms of hypoglycemia quickly to avoid diabetes headaches and more serious compilations.

Hyperglycemia and headaches

Hyperglycemia results from too much glucose circulating in the blood. In type 1 diabetes, it is caused by a lack of insulin production. In type 2 diabetes, it is caused by the body’s inability to use insulin correctly. Additional risk factors include:

  • eating too much

  • not exercising enough

  • being stressed

Symptoms of hyperglycemia are often slow to appear. However, a headache is considered an early symptom of hyperglycemia. Other symptoms include:

  • blurred vision

  • confusion

  • dehydration

  • excessive thirst

  • fatigue

  • hunger

  • increased urination

  • slow-healing wounds

Hyperglycemia is a serious condition that should be treated quickly, as high levels of glucose can damage the blood vessels and nerves. If left untreated, it can lead to a buildup of ketones, a type of acid in the blood. A buildup of ketones can lead to coma and even death.

A person can manage hyperglycemia with dietary changes and medications. Keeping blood sugar levels under control will reduce the risk of headaches caused by diabetes.


senior person taking painkiller pills from blister pack with a glass of water.
Although over-the-counter painkillers may provide immediate relief in the short-term, they should not be relied upon in the long-term.

Over-the-counter painkillers, including acetaminophen and ibuprofen, may help with short-term symptom relief.

A person should speak to a doctor first to see if their diabetes has affected their kidneys, as people with kidney damage should avoid taking certain painkillers, including ibuprofen.

However, to completely relieve or stop headaches caused by diabetes, it is important to get blood glucose levels under control and practice good diabetes management. This can involve making lifestyle changes and taking or adjusting medication dosages.

A person should always consult a doctor before making changes to their diet, physical activity levels, or medication.

Treating headaches from hypoglycemia

The first step in treating a hypoglycemia-induced headache is to confirm that the pain has been caused by low blood glucose. This can be done by taking a blood glucose test.

Taking a blood glucose test is especially important for people who wake up with a headache, as it can be a sign of nocturnal hypoglycemia.

The American Diabetes Association recommend that people with low blood sugar consume 15 to 20 grams of simple carbohydrates or glucose before re-checking levels after 15 minutes. Once the blood sugar is back in the desired range, the headache pain should reduce.

Treating headaches from hyperglycemia

High blood glucose levels may be brought down with exercise.

If a person with type 1 diabetes is concerned about their ketone level, it is important to check their urine for ketones first, especially if blood sugar levels are above 240 mg/dL.

People with ketones in their urine should not exercise and should contact their doctor immediately, as exercise could increase their blood sugar levels further.

A person can also help prevent headaches by maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious food, and taking the correct medications.

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When to see a doctor

Headaches can signal periods of either high or low blood glucose, which, if left untreated, can lead to life-threatening complications. Therefore, people with diabetes who are experiencing frequent headaches should consult their doctor.

It is important to contact a doctor immediately if:

  • a headache is severe and impacts daily life

  • blood sugar levels cannot be returned to a desired range

  • other severe or persistent symptoms are present


Not everyone with diabetes will experience headaches, and diabetes is not the only cause of headaches.

People with diabetes who practice good diabetes management and keep their blood sugar levels under control are less likely to experience headaches. Avoiding hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia is the best way to reduce headaches and other diabetes symptoms, as well as more serious complications.

If headaches are severe or persist despite keeping blood sugar levels controlled, a person should seek further advice from their doctor.

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Medical News Today: What are the best essential oils for itchy bug bites?

Essential oils for bug bites can be highly effective when correctly used. These naturally derived oils target inflammation and itchiness, taking the misery out of bug bites.

Oils can reduce the temptation to scratch, which can prevent infections. This is because persistently scratching a bug bite may open a wound that allows bacteria to get into the body.

Essential oils can help with bug bites in several ways. The following oils may help speed healing time and reduce itching after a bug bite.

The best essential oils for bug bites

Peppermint oil
Peppermint oil may help with the burning and itching from bug bites.

Any bug bite can become infected, especially if it is scratched or it leaves an open wound, as some stings do. In people who have a mild skin reaction — as many people do to mosquito and ant bites — these oils may be beneficial.

Always mix the essential oil with a carrier oil and do not apply directly to the skin.

The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) do not monitor essential oils, so, choose a brand that is known for quality and purity.

Peppermint and menthol oils

According to one source, peppermint oils create a cooling sensation on the skin. This can help burning, stinging, and itching sensations caused by bites or stings. Research suggests peppermint oil may act as an antimicrobial, reducing the risk of infection associated with some bites. Do not apply peppermint oil to broken skin as it may burn or aggravate it. Use only on mosquito bites and other mild sources of irritation.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil may help prevent bacteria and other microbes from growing in a bug bite. This can reduce the risk of infection, making it an excellent choice for children who cannot resist scratching.

Research also shows that tea tree oil might act as a natural antihistamine. Antihistamines reduce the activity of the body’s histamine receptors, which can play a role in allergic reactions and itching. This may reduce swelling and itchiness.

Lavender oil

Known best for its mood-improving and calming effects, lavender oil may also help reduce the pain and itchiness of bug bites. Lavender may also improve the pain from bites and stings from insects, such as fire ants and bees.

Lemongrass oil

Lemongrass oil’s antimicrobial effects can help prevent the spread of some insect-borne diseases, according to some sources. Research published in 2014 also found that a compound found in lemongrass oil might have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a major source of pain and itching following insect bites and stings. By reducing inflammation, lemongrass oil may make bites less painful.

Camphor oil

Camphor oil can create pleasant warming sensations on the skin, which may help conceal the itching of some bug bites. If the bite burns, rather than itches, however, avoid camphor, since it can make the sensations worse.

Chamomile oil

Long valued in traditional medicine for its soothing properties, these benefits of chamomile may also help with itching associated with insect bites and stings. A handful of studies have shown that chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties. This means it may help with mild allergic reactions, as well as itching and burning associated with most insect bites and stings.

Witch hazel

Witch hazel is not, in the strictest sense of the term, an essential oil. It is a water distilled from the leaves and stems of the Hamamelis virginiana plant. Witch hazel may prevent bites from becoming infected by fighting bacteria and keeping the injury clean. Witch hazel is also used to reduce inflammation and bruising. Since it is water, there is no need to dilute it in a carrier oil.

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Using essential oils

Essential oils with dried herbs on a table
Essential oils may serve a variety of roles and studies suggest they should be used as a supplement to mainstream treatments.

Essential oils are extracted from plants, such as herbs, flowers, or trees.

Essential oils are distinct from perfume and fragrance oils, which are often mixed with other ingredients. Within the plant, essential oils serve a variety of roles.

In plants, essential oils attract beneficial bugs, such as bees, to defend against dangerous insects, protect the plant from bacteria and disease, and send important chemical signals about the plant.

Advocates of essential oils argue that human users can benefit from essential oils just as much as plants do. Research into this developing field of alternative medicine is still in its infancy.

Many studies, however, suggest that essential oils can supplement mainstream medical treatments, or even offer benefits that standard treatments do not. That includes the treatment of insect bites.

Applying essential oils to the skin

Apply the oils directly to the affected area using the instructions that came with the essential oil, as advised by a doctor or specialist, or according to a guide specific to essential oils. Never consume essential oils unless a specialist recommends otherwise.

Essential oils to avoid

Avoid using the following oils after a bug bite or if the skin is broken or irritated:

  • allspice

  • bay laurel

  • benzoin

  • cassia

  • cinnamon

  • clove

  • fennel

  • fir needle

  • oregano

  • parsley

  • sage

  • spruce

  • tagetes

  • thyme

Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should consult their doctor before applying essential oils to their skin.

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When essential oils are not enough

mosquito on a hand
A bug bite may be infected if it becomes swollen and begins oozing.

Sometimes essential oils are not enough to treat the pain and itching of bug bites. Some other strategies that may help include:

  • putting calamine lotion on the bite

  • taking an oatmeal bath

  • applying a topical anti-itch remedy such as hydrocortisone cream

  • taking an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl

If the bite becomes very swollen, has streaks coming out of it, or begins oozing, it may be infected. In this case, people should see a doctor immediately.

People experiencing severe allergic reactions that cause shortness of breath, flushing, a rash, or vomiting should seek emergency care. Never use essential oils to treat an allergic reaction.


Bug bites can be an annoyance, particularly for people who have sensitive or dry skin. Essential oils offer a simple antidote. Some essential oils may help prevent bug bites altogether. According to some research, neem, lemon eucalyptus, and citronella oils can help repel mosquitoes and some other insects.

People should use essential oils diluted on the skin, or try an insect repellent containing them.

Essential oils are powerful. The fact that something is natural does not mean it is safe. So as with any remedy, people should talk to a doctor before using essential oils, especially if they have sensitive skin or a history of allergic reactions.

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Medical News Today: Arthritis in toes: How is it treated?

Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints and causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. It can occur in the toes with several different forms of arthritis causing problems.

In this article, we look at the symptoms of arthritis in the toes, the different types of arthritis, and how a person can find relief from arthritic pain and discomfort.


Arthritis in feet and toes.
Arthtritis in the toes may make walking and balancing difficult.

Common symptoms of arthritis that affect the toes include:

  • Pain: The toe may be particularly painful when it is lifted or when walking, but pain can also occur when at rest in severe cases.

  • Stiffness and loss of function: Arthritis can cause an inability to bend the big toe upwards, which can be painful and make it difficult to walk. The toe can become permanently bent downwards and unable to be positioned flat on the floor.

  • Swelling and inflammation: This can occur in and around the toe and the joint.

  • Formation of a bump: Similar to a bunion or callus, a bump may form from the joints rubbing together.

Other symptoms that can occur in people with arthritis in the toes include:

  • muscle aches

  • anemia

  • fever

  • curling of the toes, such as claw toe or hammer toe

  • thick, pitted, or separated toenails

  • pain elsewhere in the foot

To compensate for arthritis in the big toe, a person might walk on the outside of their foot, causing pain in the ball of the foot.

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There are different types of arthritis that can cause pain in the toes. These include:


Model of bones in the feet being held up.
Osteoarthritis affects the cartilage, which is the lining in-between bones that aids smooth and comfortable movement.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and causes the cartilage between joints to break down. This allows the joints to rub against each other, causing discomfort and pain.

When OA occurs in the toe, it is often referred to as hallux rigidus, which comes from the Latin for big toe (hallux) and stiffness (rigidus).

OA most commonly occurs in the joint at the bottom of the big toe, which is called the metatarsophalangeal or MTP joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis. Around 90 percent of people with RA will have foot problems. It can affect several small joints in the foot at the same time, including those in the toes.


Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when uric acid crystals form deposits in and around the joints. Uric acid is a bodily waste product in the bloodstream.

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis (PA) is arthritis associated with the autoimmune disease known as psoriasis. In most cases, joint problems develop after the skin condition, although occasionally it happens in the reverse order. PA is known to affect the toes.

Infectious arthritis

Arthritis can be caused by an infection within the joint. This type is often the result of bacteria traveling through the bloodstream, although it can also be caused by a virus or fungus. The small joints in the feet can be affected.

Home remedies

If a person is concerned that they may have arthritis in their toes, they should see a doctor, as soon as possible. Arthritis is easier to treat when steps are taken early in the disease to slow its progression.

However, there are several things a person can do at home to relieve the symptoms of arthritis in the toes. These include:

  • using ice packs to reduce inflammation

  • wearing stiff-soled shoes with room for the toes

  • not wearing high heeled shoes

  • bathing the feet in a contrast bath

To use a contrast bath, a person places the affected foot in a bucket of cold water for 30 seconds, and then in a bucket of warm water for 20 seconds, alternating between buckets for 5 minutes. This can be done up to three times a day, but a person should take care to avoid freezing or scalding water.

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Medical treatment

Steroid injection being given in-between the toes of a persons foot.
Steroid injections may help to ease the symptoms of arthritis in the long-term, and even permenantly.

In some cases, medical intervention is needed to treat arthritic pain in the toes. Treatment may include:

  • Painkillers or anti-inflammatory medication, which can reduce short-term pain and discomfort.

  • Steroid injections, which may be given to reduce inflammation. The injection site may be painful for a few days following the procedure, but improvement can be permanent.

  • Surgery to trim, reshape, or replace the bone in the joint.

There are three main types of surgery that could be used to help a person with arthritis in the toes. These are:


A cheilectomy is most commonly used when damage to the toe is mild or moderate. An incision is made, and parts of the bone are removed so that the toe can move more freely.

The toe may remain swollen for several months, but most people experience long-term relief.

Improvement is permanent in around 75 percent of people. In some cases, a person’s arthritis may continue to worsen, and another operation may be required.


Also known as fusion, arthrodesis is when the bones are fused together in a permanent position, using pins, screws, or a plate.

The toe will not move again, but arthrodesis is the most reliable way of treating severe pain, with a success rate of around 95 percent.


In arthroplasty, the joint surfaces are removed and replaced with an artificial joint. This procedure is more common for older people who may not need to be as physically active as someone younger.


While arthritis in the toes is not always preventable, there are some simple lifestyle changes a person can make to reduce their risk of the condition. These include:

  • engaging in regular exercise

  • wearing comfortable well-fitting shoes

  • losing weight if overweight


The outlook for arthritis in toes varies depending on the type of arthritis.

In most cases of OA in the toes, the toe will stiffen but may not get any worse, even after 20 years with the condition. In around 20 to 25 percent of cases, it will get worse and require treatment.

In cases of RA, 1 in 20 people will have severe damage to the joints. In contrast, only 1 in 5 people with RA affecting the toes will have problems worse than pain and stiffness.

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