Of course you understand the importance of sunscreen, but sometimes, no matter how diligent you were with reapplying, you still end up getting too much sun.
We all know sunscreen is important, but unfortunately, sunburns still happen. Maybe you reapplied your SPF (sun protection factor) multiple times while you were lying out by the pool, but you still managed to get a nasty burn. Or maybe you were outdoors unexpectedly and didn’t come prepared with sunscreen.
Or perhaps the SPF in your sunscreen just isn’t high enough. Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97 percent of the sun’s UVB rays. Obviously, SPFs with higher numbers block slightly more of the sun’s UVB rays, but unfortunately, no sunscreen can block 100 percent of those potentially harmful rays, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Having a burn can be crazy painful. It hurts just to put your clothes on. Then you start peeling, and it looks like you have a bad case of dandruff. And heaven forbid someone tries to give your sunburned shoulders a massage.
For those times when you find yourself with an unwelcomed sunburn, it’s important to begin treating the burn as soon as you notice it. Fast treatment will help your sunburn heal faster and relieve stinging skin. Plus, proper treatment may prevent nasty peeling.
Here are a few handy tips to help your sunburn heal as quickly as possible.
It’s shower or bath time
Take frequent cool baths or showers to help soothe your burn. Add one cup of apple cider vinegar to a bath to help balance the pH (acid or alkalinity) of sunburned skin and promote healing. As soon as you get out of the bathtub or shower, gently pat yourself dry, but leave a little water on your skin. Then, apply a moisturizer to help trap the water in your skin.
Use a moisturizer with aloe vera or soy to help soothe sunburned skin. If a certain area feels especially uncomfortable, you may want to apply a hydrocortisone cream that is available without a prescription. Do not treat sunburn with “-caine” products (such as benzocaine), as these may irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.
Water and pills
Pop a couple of aspirin or ibuprofen. This can help reduce swelling, redness and discomfort. And while you’re at it, drink extra water. A sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body. Drinking extra water when you are sunburned helps prevent dehydration.
If your skin blisters, allow the blisters to heal. Blistering skin means you have a second-degree sunburn. You should not pop the blisters, as blisters form to help your skin heal and protect you from infection. Plus, sunburned blisters that are picked at or popped can become infected. Leave them alone and let nature take its course.
Take extra measures to protect sunburned skin while it heals. Wear clothing that covers your skin when outdoors. Tightly-woven fabrics are best. When you hold the fabric up to a bright light, you shouldn’t see any light coming through. Obviously, continue to apply sunscreen with a high SPF on your sunburned skin to prevent more burning.
Help in the fridge
Try some home remedies using items in your fridge. Apply cool, not cold, milk with a clean cloth to your sunburned skin. The milk will create a protein film that helps ease sunburn discomfort. Yogurt can also do the same trick. Likewise, cucumbers can also be soothing to peeling, sunburned skin. Chill the cucumbers, then mash them in a blender to create a paste and apply to sunburned areas, including the face.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant and can help decrease the inflammation caused by a sunburn. Use vitamin E oil on the skin or take a regular dose of the supplement. Vitamin E oil also can be rubbed onto peeling skin to promote healing.
Go makeup free
Hasn’t your skin been through enough? Give your skin a break from things like fragrance-laced makeup and other chemical-laden products, which can inhibit the healing process. But not everyone can confidently walk around bare-faced so, if you must use face makeup, try a tinted moisturizer rich in antioxidants and free of synthetic fragrances and other irritants.
When to call a pro
Watch for warning signs. You should seek medical help if you have severe blistering over a large portion of your body, fever and chills, or are woozy or confused. Don’t scratch or pop blisters, which can cause infection. Signs of infection include red streaks or oozing pus.
Although a sunburn can seem like no big deal, remember a sunburn can cause long-lasting damage to the skin. This damage increases a person’s risk for getting skin cancer, making it critical to protect the skin from the sun. So even if you’ve already fallen victim to one or two sunburns this summer, be sure to do everything you can to protect from future burns.
You know you’re supposed to slather on a high-SPF sunscreen before going out in the sun, but these eight steps will help you double up on that protection.
- Limit time outside when the sun’s rays are strongest, between 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
- As soon as you spot some redness, get out of the sun and start treating it immediately. Timely intervention helps reduce the amount of damage being done to the skin’s cells, which will help the skin heal.
- Apply sunscreen before heading outside. It takes about 15 minutes for the skin to absorb sunscreen and for it to start protecting you.
- Cover as much of your body as possible when going outside. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and pants or carry an umbrella.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours to remain protected.
- Apply about an ounce of sunscreen for head-to-toe coverage. If you’re using a spray, apply it until you can see an even sheen on your skin.
- If you’re going to be exercising outdoors, look for water-resistant sunscreen, which must specify whether it protects for 40 or 80 minutes of vigorous activity so that you know how often to reapply it.
- Apply sunscreen year-round. You can burn any time, even when it’s cloudy or temperatures are cool.
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