The arrival of summer means days at the beach, leisurely picnics and great hikes, and a change in wardrobe. But more time outside in shorts and t-shirts also means that larger areas of the skin are more exposed and vulnerable to damage. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to overdo it, even if you have applied sunscreen. If you see your skin is getting red, immediately find some shade or cover the skin. If you find yourself with a painful, or even mild, sunburn, follow these tips by Dr. Alexis D. Furze to help reduce the discomfort and heal your skin.
- Cool it. Mild baths and showers can help alleviate the burning sensation and soothe the skin. To avoid irritation, pat the skin dry with a soft cotton towel, avoiding rubbing the skin.
- After a bath or shower, apply moisturizer to the skin when it is still a bit wet to help seal in moisture. Apply a deep-penetrating cream or lotion liberally over the course of the day. Aloe vera gel can cool the skin, minimize the chance of blistering, and help severely damaged skin regenerate.
- Reduce swelling. If your skin is inflamed, aspirin or ibuprofen can help keep swelling down to a minimum.
- Stay hydrated. A sunburn can dry the skin out quickly, leading to flaking and peeling. Make sure to replenish the body with fluids. Drinking plenty of water will give your skin the ability to repair more quickly.
- Shield the skin. Stay completely out of the sun until you skin fully recovers. Stay indoors as much as possible; when outdoors wear a hat and/or clothes so that the affected areas are well-covered.
- Seek medical advice if blistering is severe or you feel chills. If you experience dizziness or other symptoms, you should see a doctor. Do not pick at blisters or other lesions, which can become infected.
Did you know that the risk for melanoma increases greatly if you have had more than five severe, blistering sunburns, particularly if they occurred between the ages of 15 and 20? Avoiding a sunburn before it happens not prevents pain, it reduces the risk of skin cancer down the line. Read our last blog for tips on proper sun protection.