It happens to the best of us; when we’re out in the sunshine it’s easy to forget to reapply sunscreen after swimming, or we may just misjudge the strength of the sun and get caught out. Sunburn can be extremely painful and it’s all too easy to end up with red and sore skin if you get too much sun and without using enough sun protection.
Although it’s common and seems temporary, a sunburn actually causes serious and long-lasting damage to your skin. Sunburn also increases your risk of developing skin cancer as well as aging your skin with wrinkles, lines and uneven skin tone. The best way to deal with sunburn is not to get it in the first place – always remember to slap on your high SPF sunscreen, stay out of the sun as much as possible and reapply sunscreen regularly.
When sunburn hits, treat it as soon as you notice it developing and get out of the sun as soon as possible. Find some shade, or preferably get indoors. Then you can start to treat the burns.
Keep It Cool
It sounds obvious, but a cool shower or bath will help to cool down your skin and take the sting out of the sunburn. Once you’ve bathed or showered, pat yourself dry gently, leaving a little water on your skin, and apply after-sun with built in moisturizer liberally to help keep the water in your skin and prevent it from drying out.
Treat the Soreness
If you feel very sore in any particular area, an over the counter hydrocortisone cream can help soothe the burn. Avoid products like benzocaine or anything that ends in ‘caine’, even if it starts to itch, as these will irritate the damaged skin and could even cause an allergic reaction.
You can also take mild painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce any swelling and deal with the discomfort.
When you’ve been burned, your body reacts by drawing extra fluids towards the surface of your skin to deal with the damage, taking them away from the rest of your body. This could lead to dehydration if you’re not careful. Avoid making yourself feel even worse and load up on water and cooling fluids to take the heat off.
Leave the Blisters Alone
There’s a reason that your skin produces blisters after a sunburn – they protect your skin from what’s actually a second-degree burn! If your skin starts to blister, don’t be tempted to burst them, just leave them to heal naturally. Blisters are there to help your skin heal and protect you from infection, so popping them just increases your risk of getting the burns infected. Just keep them covered if they are too tempting and pretend they aren’t there…
You’ll need to be extra careful to protect your skin while it heals, as the damage has been done and you really don’t want to make it worse. Wear clothes that cover up your skin as much as possible when you’re outdoors, especially the areas that have been burned. Look for tightly-woven fabrics that you can’t see light through if held up to a bright light. Wear a hat and sunglasses too.
Slather on the sunscreen after a burn, be very vigilant about reapplying it and if possible, stay in the shade.
Ana Villegas, a highly sought after licensed esthetician, specializes in Advanced anti-aging/corrective skin care treatments and designer waxing. She owns Skin Care by Ana, a boutique skincare studio located in Chino Hills, CA. She has helped 100s of women and men achieve total skin transformations by pairing top-of-the-line products with innovative techniques in her treatment room.