Even though we all know to wear sunscreen, there are still times when you will sunburn. From falling asleep at the pool to forgetting to reapply sunscreen, accidents happen. That’s why it’s important to know how to treat sunburns early on so that you can avoid more serious issues like infection or dehydration. When you first notice you are sunburned, follow these tips to start the healing process.
1. Cool your skin.
When your skin is sunburned, cool water can help ease the pain. If you’re near a pool, lake or ocean, you may take a dip to cool your skin, but make it quick to avoid prolonging your sun exposure. You may also take a cold bath or shower or apply a cold compress to the affected skin.
Aloe vera or soy products can help soothe sunburned skin. If certain areas of your skin feel more uncomfortable than others they might require a hydrocortisone cream that you can buy over the counter. Avoid applying “-caine” products, such as benzocaine, as they may irritate the skin or even cause an allergic reaction.
3. Take a pain reliever.
Taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen can help reduce swelling, redness and discomfort, especially if taken soon after sun exposure. Some pain relievers can even be applied directly to your skin as gels.
4. Stay away from the sun.
To protect your sunburn from further sun exposure, stay indoors or at least, stay covered up. If you do go outside, wear tightly-woven fabrics that block sunlight from reaching your skin.
5. Drink water.
Sunburns draw fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body, so they can cause dehydration. As soon as you realize you have a sunburn, start drinking extra liquids, including water and sports drinks to help replenish your body’s electrolytes. Continue to rehydrate as your skin heals.
Most sunburns can be treated at home, but you should see a doctor if you suffer from severe blistering over a large portion of your body, have a fever or chills, feel woozy or confused, or think your sunburn might be infected. Red streaks or oozing pus are signs of infection.
Sunburns can happen even when you have the best of intentions, so it’s vital that you know how to deal with them properly. If your sunburn does need medical attention, you may always request an appointment at Baptist Health. You may also find helpful information about Safety & Prevention on our BHealthy blog.