Sunburns: they just happen. They happen to you. They happen to me. Despite our best efforts (it’s not the end of the world) they just happen.
What can we do to make our skin feel better and recover faster from sunburns?
First, and most importantly, not only get out of the sun but go indoors because anywhere outside you are still going to be hit with the reflective burning rays of the sun coming off of the sand, water, beach, walls, etc. If you can’t get indoors, then at least try to get into your car because you will not get burnt through the glass in your car.
So you have a sunburn; is it a regular red irritated, annoying one which is a first degree burn? Or do you have a second degree burn which means that you have blisters?
Most of us get regular sunburns so let’s talk about first degree sunburns first:
For relief from that burning, annoying sensation aspirin is a wonderful drug. If you can not take aspirin, take a non-steroidal like Aleve or Advil. Secondly, use milk and water compresses topically on the skin which go a long way toward relieving that really annoying burning sensation. The evaporation of the milk and water causes a cooling sensation and the protein in the milk buffers the irritated skin and makes it feel much better. Apply cortisone ointments three or four times a day. Use ointments and not creams because the ointments, while they are a little bit thicker and come in a Vaseline base and are a little bit messier, prevent a chilly sensation and they work much better. If the sunburn is over a widespread part of your body, you would probably want to take a bath and not a shower because the pressure of the shower water hurts. And in a bath use cool or lukewarm (not ice cold) water. Lastly, afterward, pat your skin dry; don’t rub it dry, pat it dry. Aloe Vera is very good for burns and will help your skin feel better.
Lastly, avoid topical anesthetics like benzocaine, lidocaine, and lanocaine. Also avoid the topical antihistamine benadryl cream which can also create an irritation like the topical anesthetics.
What happens if your sunburn is more then just red irritated skin? What happens if it starts to get fluid in it and you start to get blisters? Than you have a second degree burn. Besides everything that we have discussed for your first degree burn the most important thing for your second degree burn is do not pop the blisters because that is the way they get infected. Instead, treat them with topical compresses. This time instead of milk and water compresses get burow’s solution from the pharmacy which is available without a prescription and then apply a topical antibiotic ointment like bacitracin or polysporin after the compresses.
There comes a point that your sunburn may require medical attention: if you have a fever over 101 degrees, if you have chills, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or if your sunburn is actually getting worse after the first 12 hours. These are all signs that you need medical attention.
So while I hope this does not happen to you and I hope that you do not get a sunburn, you now know how to take care of it and how to feel more comfortable.