I just had the most wonderful week of vacation in sunny Australia (it is the middle of the summer there). It was really great to get out of the cold for a week. Sydney is a beautiful city. The wharf is amazing and the gardens are gorgeous.
I spent a lot of time out of doors and yes I was fully clothed at all times (I do not do the beach).
Even with my extra vigilant sun smart approach to being so near the equator I was still reminded that even a little sun can be dangerous.
I had lunch on a patio one afternoon—long pants and long sleeves and under an umbrella—but my sleeves were pushed up to my elbows. While my face was covered in a great sunscreen (watch for a future review) and my eyes were protected by the greatest sunglasses my one forearm was exposed for about 2 hours while I ate and drank with some friends. The sun really was sneaky and I never fet the burn coming because the sea breeze kept me quite cool all afternoon. It wasn't until I was leaving the table that I noticed how red my arm had become.
"Damn, damn, damn!" I cursed (it was after all only day 2 of my holiday and being sore and irritated was not going to be fun especially since that night I had to dress up for the opera).
"Oh it is ok." said my local friend. "Just put some paw paw ointment on it and it will be fine."
So first off paw paw is papaya. Easy enough. But I had never heard of using it to treat minor burns or irritation on the skin. Apparently no Australian medicine cabinet is complete without said ointment. Off to the pharmacy I went in search of the wonder product. And what did I discover - yep just like all cosmetics there are some great formulas, some really terrible ones and price points across the board.
The great thing is that it actually works - my very bad burn was reduced within a couple hours and gone altogether in less than 2 days. Here's why:
Papaya has an enzyme called papain. Papain, the active ingredient in the ointment, is antibacterial, antiinflammtory and also rich in Vitamin C and A which all stimulate dermal regernation. In theory, with the correct dosage and the correct formula paw paw ointment will work wonders on burns and all general irritations. Post burn treatment it also has some other amazing uses:
1. Cuticle Softener
2. Foot Cream
3. Elbow Cream
4. Lip Balm
5. Post Shave treatment (men and women and yes even intimate shaving)
6. Deep conditioning for hair
7. Diaper Rash Treatment (yep safe for kids)
8. Eye Cream
This product quite quickly became my go to tube for everything. I brought three tubes home with me just in case I couldn't find it in Canada.
Here's the downside though—lots of so called paw paw ointments are just scented petroleum jelly and not worth the bother.
What to look for and avoid:
1. High active ingredient. The best papain levels are at 5%-7% concentrations. This should be labelled on the tube. Less is ineffective and more will be too exfoliating.
2. No petrochemicals (petrolatum). Might as well just by petroleum jelly and apply it. Plus it is sticky with the petro chemicals.
3. The packaking should be opaque to protect the stability of the paw paw fermentation (active ingredient)
4. Don't pay more than $6 or $7 dollars!
Apply as generously as needed and while it will heal burns qickly it has so many more uses you will want this product around all the time.
My favourite is Pure Nutraceuticals Paw Paw Ointment ($7 for 25mL).