The Do’s and Don’ts for Treating Bad Sunburns

The Do’s and Don’ts for Treating Bad Sunburns

Summer is officially here and oops - you spent a little too much time in the sun on your first beach day of the season! We’ve all been there. Ideally, you’d be diligilent about putting on your SPF and covering up in UPF50+ clothing. But even the best skincare gurus slip up sometimes and get a little sunburned. Mistakes happen and we’re going to tell you all the do’s and the don’ts for when you do have a little too much fun in the sun.


Let’s start off...

...with the reasons why it’s so important to protect yourself from the sun (and maybe this will help you to remember to cover up next time!) Getting repeated sunburns has been directly linked to skin cancer, so while a sunburn here and there may not sound like the end of the world, skin cancer does. In fact 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. And just one blistering sunburn during adolescence nearly doubles a person’s chance of developing melanoma. The statistics are there and they’re scary…but, they’re also preventable. So next time you're out in the sun, remember to cover up in UPF50+ clothing and SPF.

Now let’s get into what you should (and shouldn’t) do when you do get a sunburn.

DO stay out of the sun. This is an obvious one. Generally speaking, during peak hours (10am - 2pm) it’s best to seek shade. Whenever you feel that you skin is starting to burn, get out of the sun immediately! And if you already have a sunburn from a previous day, avoid the sun all together.

DON’T take a hot bath or shower. Hot water can aggravate and irritate your skin and maybe even cause more damage. Your sunburned skin is injured and inflamed, so treat it well!

DO take a cool bath or shower. Just like you put a cold compress on an injured ankle for example, a cool (not cold) shower can help to decrease inflammation and ease the pain from your sunburn. 

DON’T use lotions with benzocaine. These lotions can irritate your skin, and even cause an allergic reaction. It’s best to stay away from any lotions with a scent or chemicals.

DO moisturize the sunburned areas with a calming, no fragrance lotion - Aloe Vera works great! Right when you get out of the shower, pat your skin dry and apply a moisturizer while your skin is still damp. This ensures that your pores are still open and the moisturizer has a chance to absorb deep into your skin.

DO take over-the-counter pain relievers. Sunburns can be painful so don’t feel bad for taking a small dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help reduce the pain and inflammation.

DO stay hydrated! When you spend too much time in the sun, you become dehydrated. So drink plenty of water throughout the day to help heal your body faster.

DON’T ignore blistering as this is a sign of a more serious sunburn. If you notice nausea, chills, headache, or fever, call your doctor as this may require additional treatment.


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