Tips for Treating a Sunburn

Vacationing at a beach in the tropics or engaging in other outdoor activities might be a fantastic way to relax, enjoy, and pass the time. But as the age-old adage goes: too much of anything is bad, which also applies to spending time under the sun. Spending too much time directly under the sun can take the fun away from your vacation or any other activity. 

Spend too much time under the sun, and you risk getting sunburnt. Instead of enjoying your tropical vacation and returning home relaxed and recharged, you might end up sore, red-skinned, haggard, and stressed.

Sunburns are a form of radiation burn caused by overexposure to UV radiation. It often appears within a few hours of being in the sun too long. This condition commonly causes the skin to turn red, be painful to touch, and inflamed. Other symptoms like fatigue, nausea, blisters, and peeling skin may manifest.

As mentioned above, sunburns appear after overexposure to the sun. People who engage in outdoor activities that expose unprotected skin to direct sunlight, like beachfront activities, are the most common victim of sunburns.

To avoid prolonged discomfort, we have here some tips for treating sunburns!

Here are some ways of treating sunburnt skin and preventing further skin damage:

man in a beach under the shade of an umbrella

Get out of the sun as soon as possible.

Getting out of the sun once you feel the symptoms of sunburn is a no-brainer. The skin cells on sunburned skin will already be damaged and dehydrated. Further exposure to direct sunlight will also further damage already damaged cells!

Aside from irritating already sunburned skin, further sun exposure can also make the sunburned area bigger. So if you already feel sunburned, get out of direct sunlight and get some shade!

Do not use soap on the sunburned area

Sunburns usually make the skin feel tight. The tightness is caused by ultraviolet damage to skin cells which dries and dehydrates the skin. It is crucial to avoid washing the affected area with soap to avoid making the sunburned area dryer and tighter. 

Soap can strip away the skin’s naturally occurring moisturizing oils, making it dryer and tighter. If you want to make your recovery quicker and avoid prolonged pain and dryness in the sunburned area, keep in mind to avoid using soap until at least the sunburn heals!

flowing water from shower head

Take a cold shower

If you’re thinking of getting a shower but already have sunburn, we suggest you avoid a hot shower and take a cold one instead.

Get the thought of a hot shower out of your mind until your sunburn heals. A hot water shower will do more harm than good. Warm water will only increase sensitivity and soreness around the sunburned area because hot water strips off the body’s natural oils.  

Instead of a warm shower, take a cold one instead! Rinsing the sunburned area with some cold water will give some immediate relief. A cold water bath will be soothing because the cold water will relieve some of the burning sensations around the sunburned area. 

Place an ice pack on the sunburned area

If rinsing sunburned skin with cold water doesn’t provide enough relief for you, you can try placing an ice pack over the sunburned area. An ice pack over the sunburned skin can provide short-term relief by fooling the nerves. 

Because the nerves that transmit pain and that burning sensation also detect temperature, an ice pack over the affected skin can fool the nerves into sending a cold sensation instead of pain to the brain. 

Use a moisturizer that contains colloidal oatmeal

As mentioned earlier, sunburns lead to dryness and skin dehydration. To counteract dryness and skin dehydration, you need to bring back the moisture in your skin. This can be achieved by applying moisturizing lotion to your skin.

You can apply moisturizing lotion to your skin right after a bath while the skin is still wet. To maximize relief, you can also try using moisturizing creams with colloidal oatmeal. Products with colloidal oatmeal can provide instant relief for sunburn symptoms because it has anti-inflammatory properties and barrier repair properties.

aloe vera gel inside a plastic container

Soothe your sunburned skin with aloe vera

You can also try using topical products that contain aloe vera as an alternative to moisturizers with colloidal oatmeal. Skincare products that contain aloe vera can provide relief to sunburn symptoms. Aloe vera lotions can have a cooling and soothing effect on the sunburned area. 

Aloe vera products are great for sunburn treatment because the plant extract can help speed up healing. 

But to maximize the healing effects of aloe vera-based skincare products, we recommend applying them to your skin right after showering while the skin is still wet because applying them right after a bath ensures that the skin keeps its moisture. Keep using aloe vera-based products on your skin to speed up the healing process until the sunburn heals.

red pills on gray surface

Take painkillers for the pain

Taking painkillers for immediate relief might be a good idea if you find the pain unbearable. You can take over-the-counter drugs like paracetamol and ibuprofen. 

Don’t forcibly peel the skin

The sunburned area may flake and peel in a few days. When it does, you need to treat the peeling skin gently. 

Peeling is the body’s natural way of removing the damaged layer of skin. Skin flaking and peeling after a few days of getting sunburned is totally natural.

It’s just part of the body’s natural healing process, and it’s going to happen at its own pace. So forcibly peeling skin off will do more harm than good. Our advice is to leave it alone, don’t rush it, and definitely don’t force it. 

While the skin is peeling, it might be a good idea to keep it moist using a moisturizer.

woman drinking water from a glass

Drink a lot of water

Finally, last but not least, keep the body hydrated by drinking lots of water! 

Drinking lots of water is a crucial thing to do, especially when you get sunburned skin. Why? Because severe sunburns can cause dehydration which may even cause a person to go into shock.

A sunburn brings body fluids to the skin’s surface and away from the body’s insides. This makes it crucial that we hydrate to replace the fluids that the body loses.

These are just some of the tips we’ve compiled for treating sunburns. These tips are home remedies for mild to moderate cases. Suppose you’re experiencing a severe case of sunburn, leading to unbearable pain which continues to persist or gets even worse. In that case, it’s best to seek help from a medical professional immediately!