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Burn, Baby: Caring for Sunburned Skin

Burn, Baby: Caring for Sunburned Skin

Summer is about to come to a close, but there’s still enough time to go on one last trip to the beach and have fun in the sun. But what happens when you have too much fun? Instead of a glorious tan, you might get painful sunburn.
Whether you’re planning on going on that one last beach trip before the rainy season begins, or you’ve already been to the beach and your skin is now red, peeling, and stinging, you need to know how to care for sunburn properly. The following tips should help your skin heal quickly.

Take Anti-Inflammatory Meds ASAP

If it’s red and it’s painful to the touch, then your skin is swollen and needs first aid attention. Take anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen as soon as you notice your skin has been burnt. This will keep the swelling down and help reduce the pain.

Photo by ciron810 on Flickr

Aloe Vera is Your Best Friend

There are multiple benefits to using aloe vera on your sunburn:

  • It has saponin, an antimicrobial chemical compound which helps you avoid bacterial infections when your skin is still raw;
  • Its other chemical compounds stimulate skin regeneration and reduce swelling;
  • It has moisturizing properties, which helps rehydrate dry, damaged skin; and
  • It has a cooling effect, which soothes the stinging of sunburn.
Photo by ER and Jenny on Flickr

If you have an aloe vera plant, the gel inside its leaves can be applied directly to the affected areas every day until your sunburn heals and starts to peel. You’ll also find many moisturizers with aloe vera as their main ingredient. Go for the lighter, gel-based moisturizers – heavy creams need to be rubbed into your skin thoroughly, which may make your sunburn worse.

Don’t Rub the Damaged Skin

When applying aloe vera or other chemical topical gels or creams, you may be tempted to rub it in like regular lotion to make sure the skin absorbs it. Don’t do it – it can cause the skin to break, giving bacteria new entry points. It’s also going to be very painful.

Instead, soap the areas lightly when bathing, use cold water whenever possible, and pat the areas lightly. When applying your moisturizer, run your hand over your skin very lightly, and don’t touch it. Wear comfortable clothing as well. Finally, don’t force the peeling – it will peel naturally.

Photo by Ruth Hartnup on Flickr

Rehydrate Generously

You’ll need to rehydrate your body both inside and out. Drink water generously – 8 to 12 glasses a day should keep you hydrated after spending your days under the sun. Don’t just do this when you have sunburn – you should drink as much water as you can while you’re under the sun to avoid dehydration.

Photo by Emilian Robert Vicol on Flickr

Of course, you wouldn’t have to care for sunburn if you had put on sunscreen in the first place. Next time, make sure to have sunscreen with high SPF ready before hitting the beach, and don’t forget to reapply regularly. Happy sunbathing!

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