5 Steps to Treat a Sunburn
Just in case you may have enjoyed the sun a little too much recently.
Prevention is the best medicine for a sunburn. But accidents do occur — we forget to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, or the brief respite on the deck with a cold beverage turns into an hour-long nap in the blazing sun.
It can take four to six hours for sunburn symptoms to develop, so begin treatment immediately and continue for at least 48 hours to mitigate pain and discomfort. Ibuprofen reduces swelling, irritation and long-term skin damage caused by scratching. Use a Lidocaine soothing spray as an anesthetic.
Thin, chilled moisturizing creams or lotions containing vitamin C or E help soothe skin and reduce the appearance of flaking and peeling. Apply products like aloe vera gel or hydrocortisone cream (a topical steroid) every two hours.
3. Cool it
Take a cold shower or bath to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. You can add one of these three simple solutions into your bath for added relief: one cup of vinegar (apple cider or white); a soothing bath treatment for itchy – irritated skin found in the beauty aisle; or a “generous amount” of baking soda. After your bath let the solution dry on your skin.
For quick relief, prepare a compress with ice-cold water or ice cubes. You can also try an astringent that provides anti-inflammatory relief such as witch hazel soaked in a towel or an aluminum acetate soak, which relieves minor skin irritations and helps the skin heal faster. For added relief direct a fan to the sunburned area.
Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. Dehydration is often associated with sunburns and can cause headaches, dizziness, sleepiness, dry mouth and in some cases mild fevers. For headache relief, a quiet nap and pain relievers such as aspirin can work wonders.
Give your body some time to rest and absorb the treatments. Avoid the strong rays of the sun — from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — until your skin heals. Small blisters resulting from your burn will heal on their own, but larger blisters require some attention. Gently puncture large blisters with a sanitized needle to drain fluid and then disinfect the area with soap and water. Do not use rubbing alcohol. If the skin is still intact over the blister, leave it to protect the wound as it heals unless it is dirty or contains pus. Apply an antibiotic ointment and a clean bandage. Remove the bandage at night before bed to allow the area to dry.
Seek a doctor’s care for your sunburn if the sunburn covers more than 20 percent of your body, or if you have a fever, chills, or have large blisters.
And in the future, don’t leave home without your sunscreen!