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7 Ways to Treat a Sunburn

By DuPage Medical Group Dermatology

While you may have slapped on the sunscreen; there are times when you still get a sunburn. Nobody is perfect, and sunburns happen. You may have lost track of the time or forgotten your hat and now you are as red as a lobster. Sometimes it can even take several hours for the full extent of your sun damage to show. While sunburns may not seem like a big deal, did you know that your risk for melanoma doubles after you’ve had more than 5 sunburns?

Here are 7 ways to soothe your skin after the damage has been done.

1. Get Out of the Sun!

When you first realize that you have gotten a little crispy, get out of the sun by going inside, cover up or seeking shade immediately. Be sure to stay out of the sun until your burn fades.

2. Cool Off

If you are still outside, jump in the pool or lake quickly to cool off your skin. Only spend a few seconds so that you don’t extend your exposure to the sun.

You can also continue to cool your burn by using cold compresses. Make sure you don’t apply ice directly to your sunburn.

If you are inside, take a quick cold shower or bath. Spending too long in the water can dry your skin. Also make sure any soaps you use have a moisturizing element.

3. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!

Use a gentle moisturizing lotion, and reapply often to keep your skin moist. The best time to put on lotion is when your skin is damp so it absorbs better. Aloe vera gel can also soothe a burn – it will cool and help you retain moisture.

Avoid any lotions that are oil-based. While these products are great for correcting dry skin, they can actually trap in the heat and make your burn feel worse.

If you have blisters, don’t put lotion on them.

4. Take an Anti-Inflammatory

A sunburn is an inflammation of your skin, so try treating your discomfort by taking an anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. This will help to calm your swelling and redness.

5. Wear Loose Fitting Clothing

Once you’ve experienced sunburn, avoid tight fitting clothes. You will be much more comfortable in loose fitting clothing which will help avoid more skin irritation.

6. Load Up On Liquids

When you get a burn, it pulls all the fluids to the skin’s surface to try to heal. Help to replenish by drinking extra fluids like water and sports drinks (for the electrolytes). Avoid alcohol since that will dehydrate you more.

7. Call the Doctor

Most sunburns aren’t severe enough to send you to the ER or the doctor’s office. If you or your child has sunburn with severe blistering, fever/chills or are experiencing confusion, contact your primary care physician or dermatologist. To avoid infection try to keep the sunburn covered to avoid scratching, picking or popping blisters.

Learn from your burn. Remember how horrible your body feels when you have a sunburn; make sun protection a priority every time you are outside. Be sure to generously apply broad-spectrum, 30-50 SPF sunscreen every day, and reapply every two hours.


Topics and Subtopics: Skin Health

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