No one likes a sunburn. It happens. You don’t realize you have been in the sun too long, you missed a spot when applying sunblock on your back, or the sunblock has worn off. There are other factors, as well, that can lead to sunburn.
What is a Sunburn?
Sunburn is an acute, delayed, and transient inflammatory response of the skin to excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from natural sunlight or artificial sources, like tanning bays.
When Are You Most Susceptible to Sunburn?
If you’re going on a vacation, the closer you get to the equator, the higher your risk for sunburn. Ultraviolet B (UVB) intensity is highest at the equator.
The time of day you are exposed to sun is also important. It is more likely to occur at noon than earlier or later in the day
Characteristics that make you more susceptible to sunburn include fair skin, blue eyes, and red or blond hair. Renown Primary Care Doctor, Bobby Kahlon, MD, says, “An increased susceptibility to sunburn is also a marker of increased risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.”
Mild sunburn symptoms include skin redness and pain, and can lead to peeling.
Severe sunburn symptoms is called sun poisoning and can cause blistering and infection. When the blistering covers a large part of your body and you have a high fever, nausea, chills and extreme pain, you need to see a doctor. Also, see a doctor if the burned skin shows signs of infection.
For milder sunburns, there are ways to curb the pain and discomfort on your own.
Home Remedies for Sunburn
The best remedy for sunburn is to avoid it altogether by using a sunblock of SPF 30 or higher. If you experience sunburn, stay out of the sun until the burns fades.
Kahlon says, “For the treatment of skin pain and inflammation, we suggest oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). We generally use ibuprofen at a dose of 400 to 800 mg per dose three to four times per day in adults and children over the age of 12 and 4 to 10 mg/kg per dose every six to eight hours in children 6 months to 12 years.”
Some home remedies to lessen the pain and discomfort of sunburn include:
- Baking soda and ground oatmeal– Add tablespoons of baking soda and a cup of oats to a bath full of cold water.
- Milk or Yogurt – Apply cool, not cold, milk to the sunburned area.
- Aloe Vera – Apply the gel for cooling relief.
- White Vinegar – Applying vinegar helps to relieve pain and inflammation, and prevent infection.
- Green Tea – Try making a cold compress using a clean washcloth dipped in the green tea.
- Ice – Wrap an ice pack or frozen vegetables in a soft towel and apply to burn.
- Cool Water – Take a cool bath or shower or add a moist cool compress to the area.
- Honey – Rubbing some honey on the sunburn helps to reduce pain and infection.
- Witch Hazel– Wet a washcloth with the anti-inflammatory astringent and apply to skin for 20 minutes several times a day.
- Lavender or Chamomile Essential Oil – Add a little to a cool bath for relief.
Add moisturizer to the burned area and drink plenty of water. Don’t pick at your peeling skin. If you have blisters, clean them with mild soap and cover them until they heal.