How to Treat Sunburn

By: Dzhingarov

After being sunburnt, use aloe vera gel (from either its plant source or drugstore brands) as soon as possible to soothe and moisturize the skin and relieve its discomfort and itchiness. Plus, aloe is also an anti-inflammatory that will help alleviate discomfort.

Begin with a cool bath or shower that isn’t too chilly as too much cold temperature may dry out your skin and use fragrance-free soap to avoid irritating the burn.

1. Cool down.

Sunburn can be excruciatingly painful and take its time healing; but with some simple home remedies you can reduce discomfort quickly and speed healing. Start by cooling the area; apply a cool compress or soak in tub of cool water; even taking a cold shower may do the trick; however avoid ice as this will only irritate skin further by depriving it of essential hydration.

Aloe vera contains soothing properties to provide temporary relief of inflammation and help speed healing, according to dermatologist Dr. Whitney Klein. You can either purchase aloe gel at your local drugstore or divide an aloe leaf and use its sap directly.

Sunburn victims frequently struggle with itching. To combat this issue, try using an anti-itch cream specially formulated for burnt skin. Avoid products containing fragrance, chemical irritants and ingredients like neomycin (an antibiotic found in certain brands of Neosporin) or benzocaine which may trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals.

If your sunburn has resulted in blistering, hydrocortisone cream may help alleviate redness, swelling and itching. Available from your doctor’s office or some dermatologists. Apply it as prescribed to help alleviate redness, swelling and itching.

An effective moisturizer can help your skin recover after sunburn, but avoid anything oily or sticky as this will trap heat and worsen any existing irritation, according to dermatologist Dr. Papri Sarkar. He suggests choosing lightweight lotion formulated to be gentle on the skin or using coconut oil, which has natural anti-irritant properties which will combat dryness caused by the sunburn.

Sunburn can dehydrate you because it draws water towards the surface of the skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Be sure to drink lots of fluids (particularly water) right after getting burned, according to AAD, and for several days following, according to them. Additionally, thick cream that locks in moisture such as Avene Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream could be beneficial – sucralfate helps regenerate and heal cells quickly so such products could provide great support in protecting from further peeling.

2. Moisturize.

While sunburn cannot be avoided entirely, there are ways you can make it less uncomfortable. Start by taking a cool bath or shower (but not too cold; cool H20 may actually soothe your skin even more than hot). When finished, pat yourself dry leaving some moisture behind for comforting purposes before applying moisturizer as soon as possible.

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Use an alcohol-free lotion containing aloe vera or vitamin E, available over-the-counter as 1 percent hydrocortisone cream to reduce swelling and itching, or consult your physician about prescribing stronger ointment to treat burns or blisters.

Dr. Greene advises patients to forgo oily, petroleum-based moisturizers that trap heat, which could worsen sunburn symptoms. Instead, choose a thin lotion containing ingredients like ceramides or petrolatum that help retain moisture on your skin’s surface and keep its protective barrier functioning at optimal level.

Drinking plenty of fluids is another effective way to keep skin hydrated, whether that means fruity juices, water or milk hydrating drinks, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen when sunburn occurs if safe to do so.

Pure, green aloe vera gel can provide relief from sunburn stinging and itching while it heals, according to The Mayo Clinic. Furthermore, aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties make it an excellent choice. Use straight from the plant or store-bought varieties without fragrances or other irritants which could sting. Also try cucumber or yogurt-based cooling gels which contain peptides which have been found to boost skin hydration and elasticity as well as soothe. Alternatively you could wrap an ice pack/bag/frozen vegetables/etc in a towel and apply directly onto sunburnt areas to reduce swelling, inflammation, itching while speeding healing time significantly.

3. Take pain relievers.

Sunburns sap fluid from other areas of your body, dehydrating you rapidly. To avoid this effect, drink lots of water – or mix it with an electrolyte-containing sports drink to speed recovery.

Sunburn pain is often due to inflammation, so nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen may help relieve swelling and discomfort. (But be careful: giving aspirin to children under the age of 13 could potentially lead to Reye’s syndrome – an uncommon but potentially lethal disease.)

If the pain persists, apply a 1% hydrocortisone cream, available without a valid prescription, directly onto the affected area as soon as possible. When used within six hours after sunburn exposure, experts believe using it can decrease discomfort, redness and DNA damage from sunburn; creams instead of ointments tend to block sweat glands which help cool skin better.

Cool bath or shower water can also bring much-needed relief, according to The Cleveland Clinic. To add antibacterial properties that will alleviate itching, baking soda should be included as it has antibacterial properties which help. However, avoid any scented soaps or bubble bath as these could potentially dry out skin further.

After suffering a sunburn, your skin may start peeling; this is both normal and beneficial as your body removes damaged and dead cells to make room for healthier ones. Do not attempt to peel the skin yourself; allow it to naturally flake off.

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After sunburns, moisturizer can help ease itching by locking heat onto the skin and increasing itching. Instead, look for lightweight products without fragrance that are fragrance-free to provide relief from itchy sensations.

Products with “caine” or other ingredients used to numb skin should be avoided as these could make your sunburn worse, according to Dr. Glaser. Additionally, spray medication should only be used if severe pain cannot be managed any other way as its numbing effects wear off too quickly if used. If blisters appear this indicates second-degree burns and you should seek medical advice immediately.

4. Stay out of the sun.

Sunburns can be painful and increase your risk for skin cancer and premature aging, but you don’t have to let them ruin your summer if you take steps to treat and prevent them.

As recommended by dermatologist Alan Greene, the initial step in treating a sunburn should be cooling it off with cool water or using a clean towel dampened with cool water or bath, but beware soap-based products which could exacerbate dry skin issues. A cold compress such as frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel or an ice cube in a glass of water may help relieve pain, heat and swelling for 10-15 minutes at a time several times each day – use one as part of a treatment regime!

Once your skin is calm, moisturizing should be the next step. Look for a gentle moisturizer containing aloe vera or vitamin E and apply as needed throughout the day to combat dryness. Some hydrocortisone creams may even provide temporary relief from itching.

Within several days, burnt skin may begin to peel. This is part of its healing process and you should avoid picking at it or pulling away dead skin because this could lead to infection. If itching persists, try covering any scabs with non-dyed, unperfumed gauze pads (be sure to keep them dry and clean!).

Your doctor can prescribe a 1% hydrocortisone cream to soothe any itching that persists, though for optimal healing it would be wise to stay out of direct sunlight as even mild tanning may lead to more serious consequences.

Symptoms of severe sunburn that include blisters or other symptoms like fever, chills, confusion and feeling dizzy should seek medical help immediately. These could be warning signs for heat exhaustion or heatstroke which could be dangerous to certain health conditions. Seek care immediately if a blister breaks open and emits pus. Aspirin should not be taken by children and teens as this increases the risk of Reye’s syndrome; over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may work more effectively.