How To Recover From Sunburn

July 20, 2018  |  

Credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images

There is nothing better than kicking back on a beautiful beach for a day of fun in the sun. And there is nothing worse than heading inside and seeing that familiar shade of red creeping up on your face, shoulders and back. Regardless of your skin tone — or your self-proclaimed immunity to redness — everyone can get sunburned, particularly during the summer. Whether it’s bright and sunny or overcast and windy, the sun’s powerful UV rays can wreak all manners of havoc on your skin and put you at greater risk for skin cancer. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the United States than all other cancers combined. While there isn’t much that you can do to repair the damage to your skin once sunburn has set in, there are a number of remedies that can help provide relief as your skin begins the healing process. But we must caution that if your sunburn is truly severe and you have symptoms such as nausea, blisters and dizziness then please go see a doctor immediately. For lesser burns, we recommend the following:

1. Get Out Of The Sun: As ridiculously simple as this bit of advice might seem, it’s actually really, really important and not everyone does it. If you feel your skin start to heat up to painful proportions or if you’ve been out in the sun for hours, maybe it’s time to take a break and assess your skin situation. Head inside to grab a drink, use the restroom and take a breather from outside. If you see that you’re starting to burn, then it’s probably about time to call it a day for your beach or pool outing. Any damage will only continue to get worse the longer you lay out, so save yourself some additional pain and get indoors. Also, and take it from personal experience, if you happen to be vacationing in the Caribbean, South America or anywhere near the Equator just know that your ability to bake without getting a righteous sunburn will not be as strong as it might be on the mainland. As someone who rarely burns, I was roasted on a recent vacation in the Caribbean and definitely learned my lesson about thinking my olive complexion safeguarded me against sunburn.

2. Hydrate Like It’s Your Job: While any significant time outside during the summer should prompt you to hit the bottle (the water bottle, that is), you should drink up even more after you’ve been sunburned. Those hours of tapping into your inner sexy beach goddess with that glistening sweat sheen on the beach has caused your body to lose a ton of water that desperately needs to be replaced. Particularly with how dried out your skin is following a sunburn, downing some extra glasses of water will help as your skin begins the healing process. If once you’ve gone inside and relaxed with your glass of water in hand you feel some discomfort, don’t be shy about popping an ibuprofen or aspirin to help ease the pain and lessen inflammation.

3. Take A Cold Shower: Next up: It’s shower time. Be sure that you take a cold shower to help re-hydrate your skin as soon as possible. It might be a little uncomfortable if the sunburned areas are tender, but trust us it’s important to soothe your skin by dousing it in cold water. And let’s be honest, after a day of sitting out in the sun, a cold bath or shower will feel absolutely amazing. We will caution you not to go to town on the scrub down. Your skin is in a delicate state right now, so be careful as you wash and go particularly gentle on the areas that feel like they got it the worst out in the sun. Also, once you pop out of the shower, resist the urge to completely dry yourself off. Instead, leave a little water on your skin and move directly on to …

4. Slather On The Aloe Vera: Once you get out of the shower, grab moisturizer (bonus points if you have one with aloe vera as the main ingredient) and start slathering it on. If applied while your skin is still a little moist, the lotion will help to trap that excess water in, giving a little extra — and much needed — hydration boost. Be sure to moisturize your skin throughout the day and especially after you shower to help speed along your skin’s recovery as much as possible. Sunburn really wreaks havoc on your skin and so as much TLC as you can show it in the days following your roast outside the faster you’ll heal and feel more like yourself.

5. Remember That Getting Sunburned Sucks: This bit of advice might seem fairly useless for your current sunburn plight, but trust us it’s essential to remember just how painful, terrible and flat-out awful this feeling is. Oftentimes it’s difficult for us to really appreciate and understand the long-term consequences that sunburns can have. Just like any other vice you might have (smoking, drinking, etc.), the idea of health issues down the line, just doesn’t seem all that real. It feels like a future self-problem that isn’t going to disrupt what you want to do in the present. It’s something we’ll worry about later. So the only way we can really think to discourage your next roast out in the sun is for you to really remember how much it sucked to be burned. The pain, the peeling, the ridiculous tan lines. Whatever you need to remember to dissuade you from another game of chicken with the sun and its UV rays, remember it. Because in all seriousness, sunburns are no joke and really cause irreparable damage to your skin. So please, as summer continues on, be safe out there and make sure your skin is protected.

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