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 quizâ€¦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 â€“ especially if youâ€™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 Lifescriptâ€™s sunburn relief guide: Mild SunburnSigns and symptoms: This type of burn can happen quickly â€“ sometimes in less than 10-15 minutes â€“ and leaves skin â€œwith a transient pinkness or redness,â€ 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. â€œAlso, donâ€™t scrub skin or use products that may cause a reaction,â€ Fusco says.
Signs and symptoms: First-degree sunburns usually target the top skin layer (called the epidermis)."Skin peels while the underside of skin remains intact,â€ 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. â€œIf the burn occurs over a large enough surface area, you may feel sick and get chills,â€ Fusco adds.
What to expect as it heals: Itching and blistering. â€œThis should be treated with moisturizers, topical steroids and over-the-counter lotions that contain menthol (such as Sarna),â€ Beer says.
Signs and symptoms: This burn can go beneath the outermost layer of skin and can be painful. â€œSecond-degree burns involve deeper layers of the skin and have blisters that are tense and thick,â€ Beers says. The skin lifts off the body as a single sheet instead of peeling.
- 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 donâ€™t become infected. â€œSterilize a needle by putting it under a flame. Let it cool and then pop the blister,â€ Baumann says. But donot pull off the skin. â€œThis blister roof helps hold in the skinâ€™s natural growth factors, proteins that you need to help heal the blister faster.â€
What to expect as it heals: Second-degree burns heal slowly with redness. â€œSometimes they form scars because the replacement tissue isnâ€™t as supple as the original skin,â€ Beers says. â€œAlso, if skin peels, do not pull it off in sheets. Let it fall off by itself so it heals faster and doesnâ€™t scar,â€ Baumann says.
Signs and symptoms: With sun poisoning, your skin gets red and blistery with small areas of swelling. â€œThe symptoms can range from mild headache and fatigue to severe with fever and chills,â€ 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.
- 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 â€“ not hot â€“ water, Beer says. The skin will gradually slough outer layers and may renew itself if the burn isnâ€™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.
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