When your skin succumbs to sunburn, here’s how to find relief.
There are plenty of excuses for getting a sunburn—you were having so much fun you didn’t think to reapply sunscreen; it was cloudy; you just fell asleep. Your body has one basic defense against the sun in melanin, a pigment that increases upon exposure, creating a tan. But melanin isn’t a superhero. It can only do so much.
When too much ultraviolet UV light from the sun hits our skin and damages cells, the UVA longer rays contribute to aging and wrinkling; the UVB shorter rays penetrate and burn the skin. Prolonged exposure to sun can result in wrinkles, dryness, freckles, discoloration, and in some instances, skin cancer. When we wear sunscreen, we need to calculate the time we’ll be in the sun with the SPF (sun protection factor) of the product to make sure we’re covered the entire time we’re exposed. If you’re fair-skinned and light-eyed, you are more likely to burn. Some drugs increase sensitivity to the sun, so be careful if you’re on antibiotics, antihistamines, painkillers, chemotherapy and statins, and always check to see if there’s an issue. Even perfumes and colognes can boost your vulnerability.
Instead of wallowing in pain and regret, spring into action immediately to mitigate the effects of those harmful UV rays on your skin.
Did It Burn?
The first telltale sign of a sunburn is redness in the exposed areas. You may feel hot and flushed, swell up and, if the burn is extreme, start forming blisters (the sign of a second-degree burn). Also expect headache, fever, nausea and exhaustion. The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor if it’s really bad and the pain increases, if there’s yellow drainage from the blisters or if you see red streaks around an open blister.
As soon as you can, follow these steps from the American Academy of Dermatology Association:
You can also try these other remedies for relief:
Sorry you got burned—but the good news is that sunburn is 100% preventable, if you take the right steps to protect yourself while having fun in the sun.