How to heal sunburn fast
Sunburn can take a few hours to show itself, and once it does you’ll be left with lobster-red skin that’s sore to the touch and super uncomfortable. Although you’re likely kicking yourself for catching a little too much sun – especially because your risk for melanoma doubles if you’ve had more than five sunburns – the damage is done, and now all you can do is try and ease the pain.
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Here’s how to treat a nasty sunburn so you can resume summer (preferably in the shade, and with a hat on).
Cool it down
Your first instinct after a sunburn might be to run to the freezer and apply ice directly. This is a no-no, as putting ice on sunburned skin can actually cause a cold burn. Instead, take a quick cool shower or bath but avoid using harsh soap which may irritate the skin further. You can also run a towel under water, place it in the fridge for 5 minutes and then apply the cool towel to the sunburn for a short while, doing this a few times a day.
Sunburn is akin to a thermal burn you might get from say, the oven – which is why it’s crucial to keep your fluids up after too much time spent in the sun. A burn will suck out all the moisture from the skin’s surface, which means you’re likely to become dehydrated on the inside too. Plenty of water and sports drinks will help replenish those all-important electrolytes. While you’re at it, avoid alcohol and sugary drinks which will only dehydrate you further.
We know how much you want to pick at your blisters or any flaking skin, but doing this will only prolong healing and even cause infection. As gross as it sounds, this flaky skin acts as a natural barrier to protect the injured skin underneath. Moisturiser can help to calm and soothe sunburned areas – use one containing aloe to reduce inflammation. A gentle, fragrance-free moisturiser is the perfect option, just make sure it doesn’t contain petroleum, as this ingredient can be very irritating for burned skin.
bh loves: Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturising Lotion Fragrance Free, $18.99, from Life Pharmacy; La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+, $27.99; Le Tan After Sun Refreshing Aloe Vera Gel, $10.99
Anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce symptoms of sunburn, so one of the easiest things you can do is take ibuprofen straight away to help ease inflammation. For the next few days, you can also use an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory cream to calm redness and swelling.
Avoid tight clothing
Let your skin breathe while it’s healing and avoid aggravating the affected areas further by wearing comfy, loose clothing. Synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon will be your best friend to keep your skin cool while it repairs itself.
If you have severe blistering, signs of infection, a fever or chills, or feel woozy, make sure to see a doctor.
What do you do to ease the symptoms of sunburn?