Accidents happen. Even if you make a point to slather on sunscreen every morning before you head out the door, you won’t be totally immune to the sun’s harmful rays. You can miss a spot or forget to reapply.
In any case, now you have a sunburn. And you’re probably wondering, is there anything I can do to find some relief from the pain and maybe even help the healing process along? Fortunately, the answer to both questions is yes.
How to treat a sunburn
The inflammation caused by UV light when you get a sunburn is similar to what you might get when you burn yourself from touching a hot pan. That’s why it’s important to repair the skin barrier as quickly as possible. You can do that by hydrating your sunburned skin.
Look for a moisturizer that contains aloe, which will have more of a soothing effect than other moisturizers. If your sunburn is severe, you should also consider applying an over-the-counter cortisone cream, which will tamp down much of the inflammation.
You can also reduce the inflammation by taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, like Advil. Doing so will have the added benefit of also minimizing redness and significantly easing any pain you’re experiencing.
If you ever had a sunburn as a kid, your mom may have made you an oatmeal bath. It’s a classic home remedy for a reason. One study showed that colloidal oatmeal is very helpful in reducing the redness and itch associated with sunburns.
Just be sure to use cool water. Hot water will increase redness and swelling. If you don’t have a tub, try a cool compress and then apply a moisturizer that contains oatmeal.
What not to do with a sunburn
If you follow the steps above, the pain should subside within a couple of days. And your sunburned skin will start healing itself. Although, it’s going to look worse before it looks better.
During this phase, resist the temptation to peel your flaking skin. It’s your body’s way of shedding damaged skin cells. By taking matters into your own hands, you’ll run the risk of removing living skin, too, which can cause increased irritation and inflammation and even infection. At the very least, you’re setting yourself up for poor and prolonged healing.
Similarly, it’s important to keep any blisters from popping. If any do, don’t peel them. Doing so will help you heal more quickly and lower your risk of infection.
Blisters qualify your sunburn as a second-degree burn. In other words, it’s fairly serious. If over-the-counter products aren’t providing any relief, see an Edison, New Jersey dermatologist. They may recommend a prescription steroid cream to speed up your healing.