Sunshine can feel great on our skin, but too much of it can cause your skin to burn, especially if you’re not armed with the proper protection, such as sunscreen (30+ SPF) and protective clothing. Sunburn isn’t just uncomfortable, either -- it can also act as a precursor to skin cancer. So, avoiding sunburn is crucial to maintaining healthy skin. But if your skin does get burnt despite your best efforts, it’s important to take immediate action to prevent further damage and ensure your skin heals properly.
Let’s go over the key steps to take after getting sunburnt.
Stay alert for early indications of sun damaged skin, which include changes in your skin’s color (i.e. pink or red), swelling, acute pain or sensitivity, blistering, and more. If you notice any of these signs, seek shelter as soon as possible, and at the very least, find a shady spot to avoid further direct sun exposure. This will help prevent the damage from getting any worse and help you begin the healing process.
Sunburns tend to last anywhere from 3-10 days depending on their severity. In order to relieve some of the discomfort and swelling during this type, it’s a good idea to regularly take cool baths or showers.
Taking frequent cool baths or showers will also help keep your skin hydrated. After you’re done, pat your skin down but don’t dry it completely. Rather, apply a moisturizer to your dampened skin to lock in the moisture. Products containing aloe vera or soy can provide additional relief.
If your sunburn is moderate to severe, and/or an area is particularly painful, you may consider applying a more intensive sun damaged skin treatment, such as over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream for strong relief.
Additionally, you can further relieve pain and inflammation by taking over-the-counter oral pain reducers like ibuprofen or aspirin as directed.
As mentioned earlier, keeping your skin hydrated is key in reducing discomfort and optimizing your body’s healing from sunburn. Unfortunately, sunburn actually draws fluid away from the body, causing dehydration. In this way, drinking lots of water acts as a type of skin care for sun damage, preventing dehydration.
Blisters sometimes form on sunburnt skin (second-degree sunburn), and they’re actually part of the skin’s natural healing process, protecting the damaged skin from infection. That said, these blisters can be itchy and painful, and you might be tempted to pick at or pop them. Do your best to resist this urge to avoid further complications such as infection, scarring, and bleeding.
Severe sunburns can yield additional health effects, such as nausea, chills, fever, headache, and more. If you suffer from these additional symptoms, seek medical attention from your doctor or dermatologist to properly diagnose and treat the problem.
Ideally, you should stay out of the sun for the duration of your sunburn so it heals well and doesn’t get any worse. If staying inside is not possible, however, you should at least take measures to protect your skin from further sun damage. Wear 30+ SPF sunscreen that doesn’t irritate any burns or blisters (re-apply every 2-3 hours), and cover up with protective clothing that is tightly-woven but comfortable.
Getting sunburnt isn’t fun. More importantly, sun damaged skin can eventually lead to skin cancer. For these reasons, do your best to avoid prolonged sun exposure whenever possible, protect your skin when you’re out in the sun, and take quick action if your skin does indeed get burnt. For more advice on summer sun safety, skin cancer prevention, and more, reach out to the skin care experts at Premier Dermatology Partners. And to learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.