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So you spent the day in the sun and, oops, your skin isn’t happy about it. Seeking sunburn relief is critical whether your burn is mild, burning, or blistering. Not only will it make the healing experience a whole lot smoother and less painful, but it can also help prevent side effects like discolouration or scarring.
Unfortunately, by the time you have a sunburn, the damage to your skin has been done – which is why prevention is key. What helps sunburn the most is not getting it in the first place. However, how you care for your skin can go a long way toward healthy healing. There are even a lot of home remedies for sunburn relief that you can do with products you already own.
To better know how to get rid of sunburn fast, we gathered several easy sunburn treatment suggestions. Follow our advice, below.
Cool down your skin
The first thing you should do – even if you’re still at the beach – is get out of the sun to avoid making the burn worse. Find shade, cover up your skin, and do whatever you can to protect yourself from harmful UV exposure. Sunburned skin is sensitive and at risk for further damage.
Then, start cooling the skin. For immediate relief from a sunburn, when the skin is still red and burning, it is most important to cool the skin. This is where ice and aloe vera gel come in. Not only does a cool soak feel good after a day in the sun, but taking a cold shower as soon as possible can help ease redness and inflammation.
And keep it hydrated
After cooling the skin, apply moisturiser liberally. Moisturisers with aloe, soy, or oatmeal are particularly soothing. Don’t forget your sunburned lips or scalp, either. The lips can be treated the same way as the skin. To get more relief, consider putting your sunburn relief products in the fridge prior to application for a cooling effect.
Drink lots of water
Drinking water and staying hydrated is just as important as applying moisturiser, and this is especially true if sunburn blisters have developed. This is because large blisters pull water from the skin. So drinking lots of water and covering those fluid-filled blisters is necessary to prevent dehydration.
Sunburns come with a lot of redness and pain; anti-inflammatories can help take it down a notch. All the dermatologists suggest pain medication for sunburn relief, as long as it’s safe for you to take. If you’re not sure, speak with your doctor first.
Apply cortisone cream
Cortisone cream can calm inflammation and keep skin from feeling itchy, but it’s an especially important step for those with skin of colour. For skin of colour, sunburns may resolve with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, so we would advise using a cortisone cream or lotion, preferably prescription strength, twice daily until symptoms resolve to reduce the chance of skin discolouration.
Keep your skin protected
Doctors say keeping a sunburn covered and protecting it from the air – especially if it has blistered – will speed up healing, but it’s important to protect it from the sun as well. To further avoid discolouration, it’s very important to keep fresh skin beneath a sunburn completely sun-protected.
Treat blisters right
Second-degree burns result in blisters, which are fluid-filled pockets under the skin. When the skin has formed a blister, it’s okay to let it pop and the fluid to come out. The skin under the blister is very tender and raw, as the nerves are exposed to the air. Covering the area can help with both healing and pain; however, it is best to not pull the whole roof off, as this can affect normal skin as well.
Using a thick moisturiser over the area can help skin repair faster. If you have large blisters and are prone to scarring or hyperpigmentation, a dermatologist can help guide your treatment. Again, this is especially a concern for skin of colour.
When sunburned skin starts to heal, it typically begins to peel as dead skin sloughs off. Resist the urge to peel it. Peeling the skin before it’s ready can increase the chances of discolouration and scarring. Instead, it is best to gently exfoliate with a washcloth and repair the barrier with a thick moisturiser on damp skin.
Apply sunscreen liberally
While skin is healing it can be extra sensitive to the sun, so be mindful of your UV exposure and apply sunscreen frequently. This is a must even after your skin has healed: Every burn increases your chance for skin cancer and premature aging, so start applying sunscreen ASAP and start taking other steps to protect skin from the sun.
We recommend pairing sunscreen application with protective clothing like hats and sleeves. Also, make sure you’re applying enough sunscreen for it to work in the first place.
Keep enjoying your vacation
If you happen to get a burn on the first day of vacation, it’s not the end of your fun. Just be prepared so you can prevent further damage. You can still enjoy the beach, but you should likely stay in the shade under a large umbrella or make sure the sunburned skin is completely covered with sun protective clothing. And don’t forget to stay hydrated!
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