Menthol-containing shaving foam can be an effective, if “absurd”, alternative for cooling the skin and relieving the effects of mild sunburn, those known as grade 1 burns. This is recognized by dermatologists Rosa Taberner and Eduardo Nagore, dermatologists at the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV) and the Piel Sana Foundation.
The fashion for applying this type of substance to the skin comes from a viral publication shared more than 230,000 times on social networks by an American woman, Cindie Allen-Stewart, who claims to have relieved the symptoms of a mild back burn after hours of sun exposure. Her trick is to repeat the following ritual for two days: spread her husband’s menthol shaving cream all over the reddened area for 30 minutes and then apply cold water.
Dermatologists agree that this home remedy relieves, but not because of the characteristics of shaving cream itself, but because it “has a certain anti-inflammatory and relaxing effect, such as aloe vera, and also moisturizes, which provides comfort.
In any case, they point out that these substances do not heal, but that such a mild burn, without blistering or other alarming signs on the skin, heals itself within 24-48 hours. “In the meantime, putting on anything that refreshes the skin will give some relief and end the discomfort,” she says.
While acknowledging its effects, they call this treatment “bullshit”. “It doesn’t make any sense. If you are in the middle of the desert and that is all you have is fine, but there are other things that are more appropriate, such as moisturizers, which are specially prepared to treat the skin and relieve a shallow burn,” explains Dr. Eduardo Nagore, clinical head of the Dermatology Service of the Valencian Institute of Oncology (IVO).
Thus, he considers that applying shaving cream to these minor wounds “is not an outrage”, but refuses to describe it as “revolutionary”, since it is in line with other classic home remedies such as a cloth with cold water or vinegar.
“I question whether it would be cost-effective to use shaving cream instead of a moisturizer, because it is almost more expensive. They say it’s a homemade revolutionary invention, but what’s revolutionary about it? Nothing, it’s just refreshing and somewhat anti-inflammatory. It is not a very cheap thing that we all have at hand. It’s just the kind of big-ass bullshit that gets famous in the summer. It makes me laugh more than anything else,” says the doctor.
Does not heal serious wounds and cannot “give carte blanche” to sunbathe
Experts stress that the message is to make it clear, “especially”, that menthol “does not cure, does not prevent, by a long shot, the long-term damage caused by burning. “You don’t have to look at this kind of treatment as ‘I don’t care if I get burned because I can be treated later’. You can treat the acute effect, what you see on the skin, like redness, but with menthol shaving cream you don’t treat damaged cells, far from it,” warns Nagore.
In the same vein, Rosa Taberner warns against the ‘carte blanche’ effect of sunbathing because you can then treat yourself with these substances to alleviate their effects. “The key is to avoid getting sunburned and protect yourself well from the sun, because your skin has a ‘memory’ and that burn may have caused damage to your DNA which, over time and in the face of repeated exposure, can lead to other, more serious problems,” he recalls.
Thus, and ultimately, they stress that if after prolonged exposure to the sun blisters occur and the skin tissue is altered, it is essential to seek medical attention, so that a professional prescribes some topical antibiotic, so that the wound is not infected.