In the late spring and early summer months it’s great to go outdoors and soak up the sunshine and warm air, but sometimes you end up taking in too much sunshine. If you have light-colored skin, too much sun can give you a sunburn and be very painful to deal with. The best action is to try and prevent sunburn from happening in the first place, but if it does happen there are things that can relieve the soreness of sunburn.

Put Cold Water on the Skin
If you start noticing that your skin is looking or feeling sunburned, cold water either in a pool or shower can help relieve the soreness.

  • It’s a good idea not to stay in the cold water too long or run it too cold on your skin. The idea is to give your skin just enough to keep it relieved.
  • Applying ice directly on the skin usually makes it worse, although ice in water to drink can help.

Skin Moisturizers Can Also Help
Good skin moisturizers can help give your skin relief once they’re applied after the cold water.

  • Usually moisturizers that don’t have oil or ingredients like benzocaine work better because they don’t cause the affected areas on your skin to trap the irritating burns.
  • It works best to apply the moisturizer while your skin is still damp so that the area stays cool and has less burns to deal with.
  • You might find repeating this step over the course of a few days also helps.

Stay Hydrated
While you’re busy treating your skin on the outside, you may not want to forget about your body’s needs. Sunburns can cause the affected areas of your body to lose hydration and experience dryness.

  • Drinking lots of water throughout the day can help relieve these areas in addition to the normal burns you experience.
  • Plus, replenishing your electrolytes is fundamental to keeping you energized and keeping you going.

Wear Reflective and Thick, Soft Clothing
Once you’ve been sunburned it’s good to stay indoors as much as possible to let your skin heal. But if you do have to go outdoors, consider wearing soft but thick enough clothing to keep sunlight from penetrating through. You might want to wear gloves, hat, sunglasses or other accessories to keep your skin protected.

Use Pain Relievers
One way to help reduce the pain felt from sunburns is by taking medicine for pain relief. It’s important to note, however, that some pain relievers and skin creams could increase the risk of taking in more UV rays, so it may be a good idea to consult your doctor prior to buying a pain reliever. A simple drug such as ibuprofen can help.

Dealing With Sunburn Blisters
It’s normal for skin that’s been sunburned to start developing blisters, and if this happens, it’s better to leave them alone instead of scratching or popping them. They may feel uncomfortable for a while but if you use various relief gels, such as aloe, they can be less irritable. If the blisters are affecting you badly, a physician or dermatologist may be able to help.

Any of these six options, though not necessarily all in the order, can help skin heal from the irritations of sunburns. But the best way to deal with sunburns is to use sunscreens beforehand to minimize the risks.

Find a sunscreen that has a high SPF listed on it and can block both UVA and UVB rays. Other options include water-resistant sunscreens if you plan to go swimming. Make sure to apply sunscreen to your skin once every two hours. It’s always a good idea to do everything you can to protect yourself from sunburns and skin cancer risks.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Lia Crispell, CRNP