A sunburn can happen in the course of an afternoon and it only takes one time – you forgot to put on sunscreen or didn’t apply enough. You spent too much time in the sun and now you’re paying for it with a red, hot, miserable sunburn.
Sunburns can happen to the best of us but when one occurs, take it seriously remembering that the risk of melanoma doubles if you’ve had more than five sunburns.
Even though it may seem like a temporary condition, sunburns caused from too much exposure from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, can cause long-lasting damage to the skin. This damage increases a person’s risk for getting skin cancer, making it crucial to protect the skin from the sun.
Sunburn prevention begins by wearing sunscreen and staying indoors from 10 am to 4 pm as your best defense against getting too many rays to begin with. But if a sunburn happens, the earlier you treat it the sooner it can heal. Here’s what to do if a sunburn occurs:
Cool the sunburn quickly
Apply cool water or a cool, wet cloth to the burn area as soon as you notice reddening. If you’re near a cold pool, lake or ocean, use the water from there but get out of the sun quickly and cover up. Keep cool compresses on the burn – don’t apply ice directly to the area. A cool shower will soothe inflammation and remove any chlorine, salt water or sand that is still on the skin irritating it. Or take a cool bath with one cup of whole oats added to the water to calm redness.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
To reduce discomfort and inflammation, taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin can ease pain and stop redness. A one-percent cortisone cream or aloe vera applied to the sunburn can also calm redness and swelling. Wear loose clothing so as not to irritate the sunburn and stay out of the sun.
The sun removes moisture from the skin so replenish it by using a gentle moisturizing lotion. Moisturizers containing aloe, glycerin or hyaluronic acid like Sun Burn Cool Down Aloe Spray are good ones to use. To make the moisturizers feel even better, keep them in the fridge for extra cooling relief.
Looking for a more natural way to soothe your sunburn? Soak a cool compress in either skim milk, egg whites or green tea. Milk and egg whites contain protein which will calm the burn while green tea reduces inflammation.
Drinking plenty of fluids and consuming foods with a high percentage of water can counteract the sun’s damage. Drink lots of water and choose these water-packed foods – watermelon, honeydew melon, grapes, cantaloupe, cucumbers, applesauce, romaine lettuce, pineapple, mango, apple, grapefruit, strawberries, oranges, raspberries, and blueberries.
If blisters form, allow them to heal
Blistering skin means you have second-degree sunburn. Do not pop the blisters – blisters form to help your skin heal and to protect you from infection.
Protect sunburned skin while it heals
It is important to take extra care when sunburned skin is healing. Wear clothing that covers your skin when outdoors such as tightly-woven fabrics that work best. When you hold the fabric up to a bright light, you shouldn’t see any light coming through.