Sunburn Relief Guide

But in case you do get burned, here are some tips for sunburn relief. Plus, test your skin cancer IQ with our quiz…We all know the basic rules of sun protection: Slather on sunscreen, reapply often (especially after swimming and sweating), wear a wide-brimmed hat and stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.Still, sunburns happen – especially if you’ve skipped the precautions to get a little color. What do you do when your skin is overcooked? Learn how to diagnose the severity of your burn and cool the sizzle with Lifescript’s sunburn relief guide: Mild SunburnSigns and symptoms: This type of burn can happen quickly – sometimes in less than 10-15 minutes – and leaves skin “with a transient pinkness or redness,” says Francesca Fusco, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. This type of sunburn may be a bit painful and worsen over the first day or two, but it typically goes away with little peeling or discomfort.Sunburn Relief: Keep skin hydrated with a gentle moisturizer, such as aloe. The best form of aloe comes straight from a plant, but the bottled variety works too. Also, limit your use of drying soaps and cleansers, which can make skin itchy and uncomfortable.

What to expect as it heals: Skin may remain red and peel slightly. Fend off flakes by hydrating skin often and avoid the sun while it heals. “Also, don’t scrub skin or use products that may cause a reaction,” Fusco says.

First-Degree Sunburn

Signs and symptoms: First-degree sunburns usually target the top skin layer (called the epidermis)."Skin peels while the underside of skin remains intact,” says Kenneth Beer, M.D., a dermatologist in Palm Beach, Fla., and director of The Cosmetic Bootcamp, a training program for physicians and their staff. It will look red and can feel hot and painful, especially when touched. “If the burn occurs over a large enough surface area, you may feel sick and get chills,” Fusco adds.

Sunburn Relief:

What to expect as it heals: Itching and blistering. “This should be treated with moisturizers, topical steroids and over-the-counter lotions that contain menthol (such as Sarna),” Beer says.

Second-Degree Sunburn

Signs and symptoms: This burn can go beneath the outermost layer of skin and can be painful. “Second-degree burns involve deeper layers of the skin and have blisters that are tense and thick,” Beers says. The skin lifts off the body as a single sheet instead of peeling.

Sunburn Relief:

  • See your doctor immediately. These burns can become infected so seek medical attention to make sure yours is healing properly.
  • Take aspirin or ibuprofen as directed, usually every 4-6 hours, to ease the pain and discomfort.
  • Apply topical hydrocortisone to ease pain and inflammation.
  • If you get blisters, you may drain them, but do so carefully so they don’t become infected. “Sterilize a needle by putting it under a flame. Let it cool and then pop the blister,” Baumann says. But donot pull off the skin. “This blister roof helps hold in the skin’s natural growth factors, proteins that you need to help heal the blister faster.”

What to expect as it heals: Second-degree burns heal slowly with redness. “Sometimes they form scars because the replacement tissue isn’t as supple as the original skin,” Beers says. “Also, if skin peels, do not pull it off in sheets. Let it fall off by itself so it heals faster and doesn’t scar,” Baumann says.

Sun Poisoning

Signs and symptoms: With sun poisoning, your skin gets red and blistery with small areas of swelling. “The symptoms can range from mild headache and fatigue to severe with fever and chills,” Beer explains. See your doctor or health care provider immediately if you have dizziness or fainting, rapid pulse and/ or breathing, extreme thirst, pale or clammy skin, nausea, fever or chills, or vision problems with your sunburn.

Sunburn Relief:

  • For mild cases, drinking lots of fluids helps you stay hydrated and promotes the skin's healing.
  • Taking aspirin or ibuprofen every 4-6 hours may help relieve discomfort and minimize inflammation.
  • Treat skin with frequent applications of gentle, soothing lotion, such as Aveeno, Theraplex or Cetaphil.
  • For more serious cases, you may need topical steroids, while the most severe cases may require oral steroids, both of which are prescribed by a physician, says Beers. Hospitalization is also a possibility in severe cases.

What to expect as it heals: You'll itch and peel as sun poisoning clears up. Treat the skin with bland moisturizers and shower or bathe with warm – not hot – water, Beer says. The skin will gradually slough outer layers and may renew itself if the burn isn’t severe.

How to Prevent Sunburn

The best way to avoid sunburn pain is to be vigilant about skin protection. Apply sunscreen daily with at least SPF 15, and reapply frequently when out in the sun. Keep your lips moisturized with an SPF lip balm and wear protective clothing, such as hats and sunglasses.

5 Common Hygiene Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

Do you need to shower every day? Wash your hands with scalding-hot water? Here's the dirt, according to health experts.

Which Collagen Sources Should You Try?

From powders and gummies to foods and topicals, here’s a list of collagen sources ranked from best to worst.

Potentially Toxic Chemicals Called PFAS Are Common in Cosmetics, Study Finds

Lab tests suggest that more than half of cosmetics sold in the United States and Canada may contain high levels of the chemical. U.S. legislators recently...

6 Places You're Missing When You Apply Sunscreen

No matter how thorough your SPF routine, these are the spots experts say are often overlooked.

Ask a Castle Connolly Top Doctor: How Aging and Gravity Affect Your Skin

A renowned plastic surgeon, recognized as a Castle Connolly Top Doctor, discusses the factors that affect our skin’s appearance, and how patients can ...

California Bans 24 Toxic Chemicals From Personal-Care Products: What to Know

A bellwether state for federal efforts, California just became the first in the nation to ban certain chemicals from cosmetics and personal-care ingredients...

What Are the Benefits of Fish Oil for Your Hair?

Eating more whole fish with omega-3 fatty acids may help strengthen your tresses, but there’s limited evidence that fish oil pills will do the same.

Read more on: beauty, skin