Treating sunburns is harder than preventing them. Yet, many of us well endure a sunburn of sorts at least once a year! Here are some ways to help sooth and treat your sunburn.
Upon realizing you are burned, get out of the sun immediately.
Each second of additional sun exposure will worsen your burn. Going indoors is best. But if this is impossible move into the shadiest nearby spot.
- Beach umbrellas provide little protection from UV rays unless they are very large and made of dense fabric.
- Sun exposure to can occur even in the shade, as UV rays reflect off surfaces and penetrate through everything from clouds to leaves.
Take a cool shower or bath.
The water will cool your skin and may help reduce the severity of your burn. Avoid using soap because it will irritate and dry out your skin. Afterwards, let yourself air-dry. Using a towel may cause discomfort and chafing.
- If you must use a towel, pat your skin lightly rather than rubbing it
Apply an aloe vera gel or deep moisturizer.
Spread it across your sunburn to moisturize and cool your skin. Repeat this step frequently, or at least twice daily, to reduce dryness and peeling.
- Consider using a lotion or gel that contains Vitamin C and E, as this may reduce skin damage.
- Avoid products that are oily or contain alcohol.
- If you have access to an aloe vera plant, you can obtain gel straight from the leaves. Simply cut off a leaf, slice it length-wise with a knife, squeeze out the gel inside, and apply it to your burn.
- Gel obtained directly from an aloe vera plant is extremely concentrated, natural, and effective.
Drink plenty of water.
Prolonged sun exposure and heat causes dehydration. A sunburn also draws water to your skin’s surface and away from the rest of your body. Remember to drink extra water for the next few days.
- Go beyond the daily recommendation of eight glasses of water until your sunburn has healed, especially if you continue to be in hot weather or participate in sports or other activities that cause you to sweat.
Make a cold compress and apply it your sunburn.
Wrap several ice cubes or a freezer pack in a wet cloth. Then lightly press the cloth against the sunburned area for 15 to 20 minutes multiple times a day. Remember that ice or other frozen substances should not be pressed directly against your skin. Doing so may cause an ice-burn and only make matters worse.
- Consider taking an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen (Advil). Ibuprofen will reduce pain, swelling, and redness, and may even prevent some long-term skin damage. Once started, continue taking this medication for 48 hours. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may relieve the pain of a sunburn, but does not have the same anti-inflammatory effects as ibuprofen.
- Steep several black tea bags in hot water. Allow the water to cool (add ice to speed up the process). Remove the tea bags from the water and place them directly on your sunburn. The tannins in the tea will help reduce inflammation. You can also apply the cool tea to the entire area of the burn.