Summer is right around the corner and with it comes outdoor activities and long days around the pool- all in the summer sun. A common result? Sunburns.
I constantly preach that the key to great skin is sun block. Sometimes, though, sunburns happen. If you find yourself a little more than sun-kissed, follow this advice to relieve the discomfort.
The fastest sunburn relief can be gained with compresses dipped in any of the following substances:
Cold water: Use either plain water from the faucet or add a few ice cubes, says Michael Schreiber, MD. Dip a cloth into the liquid and lay it over the burn. Repeat every few minutes as the cloth warms. Apply several times a day for a total of 10 to 15 minutes each.
Aluminum acetate. If itching is intense, says Thomas Gossel, PhD, RPh, try mixing Domeboro’s powder packets ($8.50; amazon.com) with water. The aluminum acetate in the powder keeps the skin from getting too dry or itchy. Follow package directions.
Witch hazel. Moisten a cloth with witch hazel, says Fredric Haberman, MD. This incredible astringent has been shown to have long-lasting anti-inflammatory relief. Apply often for temporary relief. For smaller areas, dip cotton balls into the liquid and gently apply on.
For long-lasting care:
Take frequent cool baths or showers to help relieve the pain. As soon as you get out of the shower, gently pat yourself dry, but leave a little water on your skin. Then, apply a moisturizer to help trap the water in your skin. This can help ease the dryness.
Use a moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy to help soothe sunburned skin. If a particular area feels especially uncomfortable, you may want to apply a hydrocortisone cream that you can buy without a prescription. Do not treat sunburn with “-caine” products (such as benzocaine), as these may irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.
Consider taking aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce any swelling, redness and discomfort.
Drink extra water. A sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body. Drinking extra water when you are sunburned helps prevent dehydration.
If your skin blisters, allow the blisters to heal. Blistering skin means you have a second-degree sunburn. You should not pop blisters, as blisters form to help your skin heal and protect you from infection.
Take extra care to protect sunburned skin while it heals. Wear clothing that covers your skin when outdoors. Tightly-woven fabrics work best. When you hold the fabric up to a bright light, you shouldn’t see any light coming through.
Although it may seem like a temporary condition, sunburns- a result of your skin receiving too much exposure from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays- can cause long-lasting damage to the skin. This damage increases a person’s risk for getting skin cancer, making it critical to protect the skin from the sun.