DEAL WITH THE BURN
So, you forgot to slap on the sunscreen at Battle Bay, and your skin looks battle-burnt? Here’s what to do to alleviate the pain.
Take A Shower When you do get indoors, take a cool shower or bath to start easing the burning sensation.
“Cool water also decreases excess blood flow to the skin, which will help reduce inflammation and redness,” says Dr Neil Reddy, the Medical Director of Precision Healthcare.
If the burn is only on a small part of your body, like your face or your shoulders, a cool compress will work, too.
Just avoid putting ice directly on your burn, since it can irritate your skin, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. (Putting ice directly on your skin can even cause damage like frostbite.)
Slather Up Your Skin When you get out of the shower, dry off by patting your sensitive skin gently with a towel. Then, while your skin is still damp, apply a moisturizer that contains soothing ingredients like soy or aloe vera. Try Dermalogica After Sun Repair, suggests Dr. Reddy.
Moisturizing is key: Sunburns dry out your skin by damaging its outermost layer and making it more susceptible to water loss, says Dr. Reddy. Products like these, however, rehydrate your skin, which make the tightness and itching feel better.
For really painful spots, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying an OTC hydrocortisone cream, which reduces itching, redness, and swelling. Be sure to steer clear of any lotions or creams with ingredients like benzocaine (or other ingredients that end in “-caine”), though. They can irritate your burned skin or cause an allergic reaction.
Hit Up Your Medicine Cabinet Next, pop an NSAID pain reliever like aspirin or ibuprofen.
Both work by fighting inflammation, Dr. Reddy says, which can help you feel more comfortable as well as take down some of the redness and swelling.
Play The Long Game Over the next few days, continue keeping your skin hydrated by applying your moisturizer regularly.
Make sure to drink plenty of water, too, which will hydrate your skin from the inside, Dr. Reddy says.
You can keep taking aspirin or ibuprofen as directed until the pain eases up, too. While your burn is healing—which should take about a week—try not to do anything that would irritate it more.
“You should avoid peeling, picking, or scrubbing at your skin,” Dr. Reddy says. That means no scratching or popping blisters. You should also apply soap or body wash directly to your skin in the shower instead of using an abrasive washcloth or bath sponge.
And of course, stay out of the sun. Burned skin is damaged, which makes it more susceptible to further sunburn, Dr. Reddy says. If your burn doesn’t seem to get better after a week, or if you have severe pain or blistering, a fever or chills, or nausea or vomiting, you should seek emergency care, Dr. Reddy says. All are signs of a severe burn, which may require treatment like skin dressings, wound care, and additional anti-inflammatories.