In recent years, we have become much more mindful of how we take care of our skin. With all the discussion that focuses on how to avoid sunburn by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, you would think that no one would suffer the redness, itching, and cellular damage that occurs from too much UV exposure. Sadly, that is not the case. Sunburns happen; not on purpose, but when you least expect. If your day by the pool has turned you into a lobster, all the talk in the world about broad-spectrum sunscreen isn’t going to help at the moment. Here, we discuss a few things to do to soothe a sunburn quickly.
Too much UV light doesn’t just cause the skin’s surface to become red and irritated, it heats the tissue beneath the surface. This remnant heat can exacerbate the symptoms of a burn. Therefore, priority number one is to cool the skin. One way to do this is to move out of the sunshine as soon as you see redness or feel the telltale signs of a burn. Another way to cool the skin is through direct method. Ice should not be applied to sunburned skin, but a cool compress can. If you’re at a beach or pool when you become aware of a sunburn, use a shower to rinse your skin with cool water.
If the skin can be cooled right away, there is a chance that secondary symptoms of sunburn may be milder than they would be if heat were left to dissipate on its own. However, overexposure to UV light will still cause inflammation. Therefore, priority number two after a sunburn is to calm this inflammation down. You can do this by sitting in a bath of lukewarm water to which one cup of vinegar or baking soda has been added. These natural solutions are soothing to inflamed, irritated skin and can decrease itching and discomfort.
One of the effects of sunburn is skin dryness. In some cases, the skin will blister. If blisters develop over a small area, do not pop them or peel the skin away; this can present a risk of infection. To prevent dryness after a sunburn, apply a nourishing bath oil after showering, while the skin is still damp. Moisturizing lotion or cream can then be layered over the oil to lock water molecules in the uppermost layer of skin.
It is important to take proactive measures against sunburn and the damage a burn can cause. For assistance scheduling a skin cancer screening or treatment for sun damage, call our Teaneck, NJ dermatology office at 201-836-9696.