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Beat the Burn: How to treat sunburn

Spending time in the sun, even without taking proper precautions, can lead to sunburn. Excessive sunburn can be dangerous and painful. But sunburn is preventable and treatable. In this article, we will discuss some symptoms that you’ve had too much sun, the effects of sunburn, and some tips for what to do when you spend too much time in the sun.

Sunscreen and Self Care

Many signs can indicate that you've been exposed to sunburn. Some of these include:

● Change in skin color: By far, this is the most obvious sign that you have a sunburn. Typically, sunburn will cause your skin to become red almost immediately after sun exposure. This redness can last as long as a couple of days, but peak redness typically occurs within one day after the burn happens. For minor burns, tender skin in and around the burn area usually accompanies skin color changes. Sunburn blisters could also occur in more severe scenarios.

● Nausea: Nausea after getting sunburned typically accompanies a fever and can be prevalent in severe cases. In this scenario, nauseousness generally stems from dehydration, so don’t overlook feeling a little sick after spending a day out in the sun.

● Itching: Itchy skin after a day of sun most notably correlates to sunburn. Your skin will feel itchy in spots that you overexposed to the sun. Itches will go away as the burn heals or as you treat it with itch-soothing creams or gels.

● Peeling: Peeling often occurs as your burns recover due to dead skin cells shedding off your body. It is vital to let peeling happen naturally to reduce the chance of infection and speed up the healing process.

Side Effects of Sunburn

While the list of symptoms above may give you reason to prevent yourself from getting a sunburn, there are several serious side effects of a sunburn if you do not treat it correctly.

● Sun hangover: This condition occurs when you feel under the weather after a day out in the sun. This sick feeling results from inflammation caused by the sun and your body’s response to fighting it.

● Premature aging: Sun damage is cumulative, which means its effects won’t show up until further down the road. However, premature aging can occur for people with moderate to heavy amounts of mild sunburn throughout their lives. It becomes even more of a concern if you don’t use proactive skin care measures, both for burned skin and daily protection.

● Hospital admittance: For more severe cases of sunburn, if the DIY techniques that we will discuss later don’t effectively treat your sunburn, you may need to visit the hospital for further treatment.

● Skin cancer: Severe sunburns can also dramatically increase your risk for melanoma, or skin cancer. Shielding your skin from the sun is the best way to combat this.

How to Prevent Sunburn

The first step in preventing sunburn is wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher. It’s also important to reapply your sunscreen as often as it recommends, because only a few applications of sunscreen provide protection for several hours.

Another practical suggestion is to ensure you have a hat, mask or other covering to protect your face from direct exposure. If you can help it, don’t stay outside for long periods. Taking breaks from the sun to rest, hydrate and reapply sunscreen is a wise way to reduce your risk of sunburn.

What NOT to Do While Burned

After being exposed to the sun, your best bet is to avoid certain product types so you don’t further irritate or damage your skin. Anything gritty like face scrubs with microbeads is best avoided, as they can scratch your skin. Additionally, stay away from harsh chemicals such as acne products, as you want to rehydrate your skin, not dry it out further.

The best thing to use for a sunburn is not petroleum jelly, but rather aloe vera. While it may seem counterintuitive, using petroleum jelly will actually make things worse by trapping the heat that’s trying to escape your body. Also, while you are recovering from a severe sunburn, steer clear of using any kind of oil or topical agent because it can cause the burn to get worse and also dry out your skin.

Treatments for At-Home Recovery

For every sunburn remedy that seems to work, you may find even more ineffective remedies. It’s difficult to distinguish between useful and useless tips when there are so many conflicting suggestions. Here are some tips that can be done right away to start the healing process.

● Get hydrated: Sunburn actively brings fluids to the skin’s surface, meaning you can quickly become dehydrated. Hydrating yourself from the inside with plenty of fluids directly impacts your skin’s health.

● Moisturize your skin:Applying a topical moisturizer like aloe vera, or a cream that contains it, directly to the affected areas is by far one of the best ways to treat sunburn. These gels or creams work to hydrate and soothe your skin while also reducing inflammation caused by sunburn. Other optimal sunburn-soothing ingredients to look for in a topical lotion or moisturizer include vitamins D and C, lanolin, oat and ceramides.

● Green tea: Green tea contains tannic acid, which is excellent for healing skin and relieving pain relating to sunburn. However, you must apply the tea topically to get results, whether through a spray or wet compress.

● Oatmeal bath: While this may seem unorthodox, you can mix colloidal oatmeal into your bath to help moisturize and soothe your sunburned skin. Ground oats can hold a lot of moisture, which will transfer into your skin.

When a person has a sunburn, there are many treatments available to ease the pain. Most commonly, the person can take medications, apply cold compresses, or apply non-alcohol based lotions. In severe cases, a doctor may recommend treatment with vitamin C and D or, if a patient is severely burned, a sunburn IV can be administered. In addition to these options, we offer a mobile IV service that can be booked online or called in with any questions.

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