Tips for Treating Sunburn
Sunburn occurs when your skin is exposed to too much UV light from rays of the sun without proper sunscreen and/or clothing protection. Symptoms of sunburn can include redness, warmth, blisters, stinging, and pain.
Though prevention is the best medicine, these tips can help if you accidentally soak up too much sun.
- Stay cool. Frequent cool baths or showers can alleviate pain. Limit the duration of your bath or shower to prevent dry skin, and avoid harsh, irritating soaps. A quick dip in a cold pool, lake, or other body of water can be relieving, but be sure to seek shade or head indoors after a few seconds to avoid further burning. Cold compresses can be helpful as well.
- Moisturize. Apply a gentle moisturizing lotion to damp skin after bathing. This can be especially helpful if the skin begins to peel. Avoid petrolatum and oil-based moisturizers early on as these can trap heat and make a burn worse. Products containing aloe vera or soy can soothe the skin.
- Reduce inflammation. Consider taking an over-the-counter NSAID pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen, which can reduce redness, swelling, and discomfort. Over-the-counter products containing hydrocortisone 1% can be helpful for reducing severe inflammation related to sunburn, but topical anesthetics should be avoided because these can irritate the skin.
- Stay hydrated. The inflammation from a sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of your body. Drinking extra water or sports drinks containing electrolytes can prevent dehydration.
- Let blisters be. Blisters occur with a second-degree sunburn. Avoid popping blisters as they will heal more quickly and reduce the risk of infection if left alone.
- Seek shade. This point probably speaks for itself, but extra care should be taken to prevent further sun exposure during the healing process. Stay indoors or seek shade when outdoors. Wear sun protective clothing or tightly woven fabrics to cover your skin when shade is not available.
- Call a doctor if… Seek medical attention if severe blistering occurs over a large portion of the body. Other symptoms that should prompt medical evaluation include fevers, chills, confusion, feeling woozy, and yellow crusting or oozing of pus from blisters.
Stay safe by avoiding sunburns
These tips can be very helpful for the temporary symptoms related to a sunburn; however, long-lasting damage may already have occurred. This damage increases a person’s risk for developing skin cancer and premature aging, especially with repetitive exposure.
Remember to protect your skin from the damaging rays of the sun because prevention is critical to prevent skin damage and reduce your cancer risk. Click here to learn 6 things you need to know to keep your skin safe. Call your dermatologist if you are concerned about your risk for skin cancer and to learn how to better protect your skin from the sun.