In South Africa, school children are often exposed to the risk of sunburn as a result of schools lacking sun protection policies. Local research has shown that sunburn in children significantly increases the risk of developing skin cancer and melanomas – the deadliest form of skin cancer – later in life. Research has also shown that Rooibos may help to prevent the development of skin cancer. Parents whose children have been badly sunburnt may be able to turn to Rooibos for help.
Dr Tandeka Magcwebeba, a post-doctoral fellow at Stellenbosch University who has done extensive research on the anti-cancer properties of Rooibos on the skin, says the topical application of Rooibos may offer protection against the early stages of cancer development in the skin. “Once the skin has been exposed to the sun’s UV rays, Rooibos extracts have the ability to remove precancerous damaged cells and also block the onset of inflammation. It does so by stopping the multiplication of cancerous cells and removing these cells through programmed cell death – in other words, prompting the cells to commit suicide … It’s the abundance of polyphenols (antioxidants) – natural compounds found in Rooibos – which gives its restorative power,” explains Dr Magcwebeba.
If a child does end up with sunburn, anecdotal evidence suggests that soaking a child in a lukewarm bath of Rooibos two to three times a day could help to reduce inflammation and accelerate the healing of the skin.
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