The summer season has officially begun and with that comes an increase in outdoor activities such as going to the beach. As much as we know the importance of applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen on a daily basis, there are times when we forget and end up getting a sunburn.
Here are some important tips on how to treat sunburns:
- Place a cool compress on sunburned skin for immediate pain relief
- Take a cool shower or bath to cool down the skin. You can add a few heaping tablespoons of baking soda or ½ cup to 1 cup of oatmeal to the cool bath to help soothe your skin. When you get out of the shower or bathtub gently pat your skin dry and immediately moisturize your skin. Continue to moisturize your skin while the sunburn is healing as well as if it starts to peel.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- If you have any redness, swelling, or discomfort you can consider taking an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, Motrin, or Aleve to reduce those symptoms.
- Apply Aloe Vera gel or aloe-based lotions to help soothe irritated skin. Consider putting the Aloe Vera gel in the refrigerator so that it is cool when you apply it on the sunburned areas.
- If your skin is red and itchy, you can apply hydrocortisone cream 2-3x per day to make you more comfortable
- If you have blisters from a sunburn, do not pop them because it can make the sunburn worse as well as put your skin at risk for infection. You may want to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional that can prescribe a topical medication such as Silvadene or Biafine Topical Emulsion.
- If you start to develop fevers, chills, nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, confusion or dizziness, it is extremely important that you seek medical attention immediately.
The best way to avoid a sunburn is by using a sunscreen with the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide with an SPF of at least 30 or higher. It is also important to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours when you are outdoors and it should also be reapplied immediately after swimming, toweling off or sweating.
Just remember that it only takes one bad sunburn to make an impact on your skin. The long-term effects include premature aging, sun spots, wrinkles and skin cancer.