Sunburn can cause redness and pain from excess unprotected exposure to the sun. Repeat sunburns can put you at risk for melanoma and increase your chances for having skin cancer later in life. Even if proper steps are taken to protect your skin, a sunburn can still occur. When that happens, you need to take sunburn seriously and move to heal it as quickly as possible. Below are the best sunburn treatment options to help relieve the pain and heal the effected areas.
Cool Down Method
Our first “best sunburn treatment” is one that is not often thought of as a treatment. If there’s a cool body of water nearby, hop in for a few seconds as soon as you notice that you’ve become sunburned. Afterwards, cover up quickly and get indoors or into a shady area. Use cold compresses to cool down the affected areas.
You can wet a washcloth in ice water or milk and apply it to the skin, but you should not put ice directly on the burn. This would further irritate the already inflamed skin. Milk creates a protein film over the burn which helps to ease inflammation. Cool freshly brewed tea can also be used to restore the pH balance of the skin and draw out heat. Cool showers or baths can help but they need to be short since water can dry out the skin. Use the gentlest soap or body wash possible to avoid making the situation worse.
Another component to treating a sunburn is moisturizing. You need to moisturize while your skin is still damp. Use a gentle lotion which is petroleum-free to keep the burned or peeling skin hydrated. Heavy oil-based products can trap heat next to the skin and worsen the sunburn, so you want to avoid those. However, vitamin E oil can be rubbed into the peeling skin to decrease inflammation since it’s an antioxidant.
Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin as soon as possible. These can assist in reducing discomfort and inflammation over the first couple day. You can also use a one percent over-the-counter preparation of hydrocortisone cream to help reduce redness, itching and swelling. You may not want to use this for sunburns on the lips since it should not be ingested.
Store-bought aloe vera products or gel straight from the plant can also help to soothe the skin and promote healing. What you wear matters. Avoid tight restrictive clothing and opt for loose clothing made from soft breathable materials. And while this may sound obvious, it can’t be stressed enough: stay out of the sun until your sunburn heals.
You should staying hydrated no matter if sunburned or not, but its especially important when you’ve received a sunburn. Burn cause fluid to be drawn to the surface of the skin and away from other areas of the body. This can make you dehydrated so you need to replenish the lost liquids. In addition to water, you should also drink sports drinks which replace electrolytes. You should drink increased fluids both immediately after you notice sunburn and while your skin heals.
Seek Medical Attention
If there is severe blistering or your sunburn is accompanied by fever, chills or confusion, you need to seek medical attention. You also need medical assistance if blisters are showing signs of infection like pus or red streaks.
The Best Sunburn Treatment
The number one best sunburn treatment is prevention. Once you’ve healed from this bout of sunburn, take steps to keep it from occurring again. You should consult with a dermatologist to get recommendations for your particular skin type and lifestyle. As a general rule, always use sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher and wear protective clothing and accessories including hats and sunglasses. Avoid direct sun exposure wherever possible.