You thought you took all precautions during your day at the beach. You wore a hat, sunglasses and used sunscreen…but you admit that maybe you did not reapply as often as you should have because you still came home with bright pink shoulders and chest.
Sunburns can sometimes still happen, despite your best intentions.So how can you repair the damage and soothe your burning and stinging skin? Not to mention minimize the inevitable peeling and flaking skin that follows a bad sunburn?
To understand how to heal sunburn, first you need to understand what a sunburn is – a radiation burn from UVB rays. Sunburn can occur in as few as 15 minutes of exposure to the sun and can continue to develop for up to three days. The DNA in the skin cells is damaged and results in the death of the cells. This causes peeling, as the body sloughs off the dead cells.
Except for very severe cases, your body will heal itself in a few days. Treatment for sunburn mainly consists of pain relief and moisturizing your damaged skin.
One suggestion is to add a few heaping tablespoons of baking soda to cool bath water, and soak for 15 to 20 minutes, then air dry, instead of toweling off so some of the baking soda stays on your skin.
Another soothing remedy is to use one cup of oatmeal in your bath – again, using cool water and air drying. If a bath isn’t an option, use a washcloth soaked in cool water, with baking soda or oatmeal, and apply to your burned skin like a cold compress.
Aloe vera is a go-to for sunburn relief. By causing blood vessels to contract, the thick gel-like juice of the aloe vera plant can take the sting and redness out of a sunburn. Apply aloe vera to the sunburned area five or six times a day for several days.This can not only help ease the pain but can help to keep skin moisturized and minimize peeling.
There are many home remedies that bring relief from sunburn, including apple cider vinegar to help prevent blistering and peeling, ice compresses, potatoes, milk, onions, tea and yogurt.
You can also use a topical anesthetic, in cream or spray form, to relieve the pain of a sunburn. Sprays may be the best choice, but never spray directly on your face. Apply the anesthetic to a piece of gauze and gently wipe on your face. An over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, can relieve pain and reduce inflammation caused by sunburn. If you can’t tolerate ibuprofen, acetaminophen can help with the pain, but not the inflammation.
It’s important to stay well hydrated and use plenty of moisturizer as you recover. To ease chafing, apply cornstarch to your sunburned skin. Using oils or petroleum jelly can make the burn worse, and if there is blistering, don’t apply anything.
Remember, this too, shall pass. It won’t be long before the sunburn is healed. Next time, follow the directions on the sunscreen label and apply to dry skin at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure, reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and seek shade!