You know the rules about wearing sunburn, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in the pool, sightseeing, or sipping another iced tea — and before you know it, you’re as red as a summer watermelon. In all seriousness, consider this frightening statistic: five or more sunburns when you’re young increases your lifetime melanoma risk by a whopping 80 percent. What’s even more disturbing is that some people intentionally get burned to adopt a trend called “sunburn art.” So, the moral of the story is perpetually re-apply that SPF and avoid the sun between 10am and 2pm if at all possible. But, if you still get burned for whatever reason, here’s what you can do about it.
1. Immediately treat the problem at hand. The longer you wait, the worse the condition will get and the harder it will be to heal faster. And obviously, get and stay out of the sun. Pop an ibuprofen to relieve the pain and swelling.
2. Take frequent cool baths and showers so you can get a little relief. When you get out of the tub, gently pat yourself dry — never rub. Leave your skin a bit damp before applying an aloe vera or soy-based moisturizer. Don’t forget areas such as your face, ears, back of the neck and knees. If you want to up the ante, apply an all-natural (free from artificial fragrance, etc.) body oil before the moisturizer. Any severely uncomfortable areas can be treated with an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream.
3. Drink copious amounts of water — more than usual — as a sunburn pulls fluid to the skin and away from the rest of the body. Additional consumption also prevents dehydration. If you’re having problems consuming more H20, nosh on water heavy fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe.
4. If you’re extremely uncomfortable, wrap an ice pack with a damp cloth and gently place it on the burn. You can even do the same thing with a bag of frozen peas. Or go the DIY route with items from your kitchen. For example, make an anti-inflammatory paste out of cornstarch and water. Slather yogurt over your burn and rinse off in a cool shower after it soaks in. Boil lettuce leaves, strain, and let liquid cool for several hours in the fridge. Since this leafy green has analgesic properties, dab the liquid over burnt areas with a cotton ball.
5. Sprinkle talcum powder in your sheets to minimize chafing and friction. Any signs of blistering is an indicator that you have a second-degree burn. Do not pop the blisters as they can become infected and create scarring. Allow them to heal on their own, no matter how unsightly they look. Also, definitely resist the urge to peel — hands-off!
6. Avoid wearing any itchy or irritating fabrics during the healing process, but do keep your skin covered and protected from the sun’s rays. Make sure the material is thick enough so that you can’t see light coming through.