What You Should Do After a Sunburn

Tips for dealing with the pain, inflammation and blisters that come with a bad burn

After a long day spent outdoors in the summer sun you step inside and begin to notice that the light pink on your skin is quickly turning into a dark shade of red. The stinging pain of your irritated skin is definitely one of the most unpleasant aspects of summer and this probably isn’t the first time you’ve dealt with a burn, but do you know what to do about it?

First, it’s important to know that once you have sunburn, the damage is done, so it’s crucial to avoid a burn in the first place. The precautions you take before-hand are most important because each sunburn increases your risk of getting skin cancer. If you’re looking to take care of the pain, though, here are some top tips.

Get out of the sun. This seems like an obvious tip, but to limit the damage you should get out of the sun if you think your skin might be burning.

Take ibuprofen. Take ibuprofen early on and you could limit some of the swelling and pain.

Apply a cold compress or soak in a cool bath. Showers might be too much pressure for the damaged skin, so soak in a cool bath (without soap, which will dry the skin out). When you’re done leave a bit of water on your skin to help keep you cool.

Use aloe and moisturize. Aloe can minimize some of the irritation from sunburns, but check the ingredients in the gel before you put it on—some ingredients can trigger allergies or trap heat in the skin. Moisturizing will also help soothe your skin and might help limit some of the peeling that usually follows a bad sunburn.

Hydrate. Drinking water will help your skin and keep you from being dehydrated—common condition among sunburn sufferers.

Don’t touch blisters. Should they appear on your skin, don’t mess with blisters. If you try to pop them you could scar the skin or leave it open to infection.

Take a break from the sun. After a bad burn the skin needs some time to heal and repair, so it’s best to avoid the sun for a few weeks. When you go outside be sure to cover up with light colored, tightly woven clothing, use hats and sunglasses and find shade whenever possible.

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