Uh oh! You got a sunburn from that trip to the beach, now what?
The first thing to do is treat the sunburn so that you feel better. It’s important to begin treating your sunburn as soon as you notice it. You may feel tingling, or see signs of the skin reddening – a touch of pink now could turn into a big problem later! Keep in mind that it may take 4-6 hours for the symptoms to start to develop. And the first thing you should do? Get out of the sun!
Step 1: Cooling the skin
Take cool baths or showers if you can stand them to help relieve the pain of the sunburn. Applying a cool, damp towel to the burned skin for 10-15 minutes a couple times a day can help take out some of the heat.
Step 2: Moisturize
Directly after a cool shower or bath, slather on a moisturizing cream or lotion to soothe the skin and help lock in the moisture from the shower or bath. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests using a moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy, and avoid using products that contain petroleum (traps in heat) or benzocaine/lidocaine (may irritate skin).
Products containing vitamins C and E may help to limit the skin damage, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. “It’s also OK to use a hydrocortisone cream for a day or two to relieve discomfort” in the worst areas. Don’t pick, scrub, or peel your skin.
A note on blisters: generally, when blisters form it’s because you have a second-degree burn on your skin. These blisters protect the skin while it repairs, and helps to protect you from infection. Allow them to heal, and don’t break them!
Step 3: Pain relief
If you are in a lot of pain, consider taking some ibuprofen to help reduce any swelling, redness, and discomfort. Some experts advise to take it as soon as you see signs of sunburn, and keep taking it for the next 48 hours to cut back on the swelling and redness that is going to occur (see Five Ways to Treat a Sunburn for more information). Tylenol may treat the pain, however it does not have the same anti-inflammatory effect.
Step 4: Hydrate
Drinking extra water when you are sunburned helps prevent dehydration – sunburns make you get very dry inside! The burn draws fluid to the skin surface and away from the rest of the body. Watch for signs of dehydration: dry mouth, thirst, reduced bathroom time, headache, dizziness, and sleepiness.
Step 5: Protect and Assess
Most sunburns will heal at home with the proper treatment, even those that cause a few blisters. Take extra care to protect sunburned skin while it heals by wearing clothing that covers your skin thoroughly (tightly woven).
However, is a blistering burn covers 20% or more of the body (a child’s whole back for example), seek medical attention. If you have fevers and chills you should also seek medical help, says the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Consider this burn to be a warning that you need to be more sun-safe.
Buy sunscreen and apply it regularly while in the sun, cover up with clothing and hats, and generally avoid the sun as much as possible. Sunburns can cause long-lasting damage to your skin, increase the signs of aging, and increase your risk for getting skin cancer! One of the easiest ways to protect the skin on your face is to use an anti aging skin care that contains sun protection, like Christie Brinkley Skincare!