We all know how important it is to wear sunscreen, but no matter how hard we try to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays, accidental sunburns are bound to happen. Here are a few helpful tips in case you find yourself a little crispier than intended and in need of some relief!
The best treatment is PREVENTION!
Did you know sustaining just 5 sunburns can more than double your risk of developing melanoma? Appropriately applying sunscreen and practicing sun safety are essential to protecting ourselves from a sunburn. As soon as your skin feels like it is burning, find some shade, and reapply your sunscreen. The redness and stinging are both signs a sunburn is in your future if you don’t act quickly.
COOL IT DOWN
Taking a shower or bath using cool water can help relieve some of the pain and irritation. Just don’t stay in for too long because it can be drying to the skin. Be sure to gently pat yourself dry to prevent damaging the skin even more.
After bathing, apply a water-based moisturizer, such as CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion, while your skin is still damp to help seal in moisture. Avoid using petroleum or oil-based products because they can trap the heat and actually make the burn worse.
As long as it is safe for you to do so, taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen as soon as you notice a sunburn can help reduce the pain, swelling, and redness. Applying an over-the-counter topical steroid cream or aloe vera may also help soothe the skin. Wear clothing that is soft, loose-fitting, and breathable to prevent further irritation and give the skin time to heal.
Burns draw fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body, so it is important to make sure you are drinking lots of extra fluid to keep your body and skin hydrated.
THE “DON’TS” OF SUNBURNS
- – Stay out of the sun until your sunburn has healed. Our skin is much more sensitive to the sun when burned and further exposure increases the chance of it worsening and requiring medical attention.
- – If (and more likely when) your skin begins to peel, do not exfoliate or remove the dead skin. Peeling means the body is trying to get rid of the damaged cells and interfering could prolong, or even worsen, the healing process. Continue to treat the skin as you would a non-peeling sunburn and it should stop once the skin has healed.
- – NEVER pop or scratch blisters. Doing so increases the likelihood of infection, in which case the skin may develop red streaks extending from the wound or have cloudy, greenish-yellow discharge.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION
- – If you experience blistering that covers a large portion of the body, have a fever and chills, or feel lightheaded and confused
- – If a child experiences severe blistering, fatigue, or a fever >101°F
- – If you have signs of an infection or dehydration
- – If your sunburn does not respond to at-home treatment
Don’t let a sunburn ruin your summer fun! Always wear sunscreen and take the necessary steps to protect you and your family. See our blog post about skin cancer prevention for more info on how to keep you and your family safe in the sun!
If you have any questions, stop by Sona Pharmacy + Clinic to speak with a pharmacist today.
Skin Cancer Foundation (www.skincancer.org)
American Academy of Dermatology (www.aad.org)