Of course we all try to avoid sunburns altogether, using high-factor sunscreen to protect our skin from the worst of the UV radiation coming from the sun. But sometimes you simply don’t know what the weather will do, or you find yourself without sunscreen for some reason or another. Whatever the reason, when you get a sunburn you have a serious issue and you need to know precisely what to do to mitigate the damage.
The first thing to understand is how burns work. The skin will keep on burning through layer after layer for some time after the actual heat is applied. This is why, when you burn your finger on a hot pan, you need to stick it under cold water for quite some time; you’re halting the burn in its tracks, pretty much literally.
Sunburn is no different in this regard, and cool to cold showers on a regular basis for some time after you acquire the sunburn are a good way to help the burn stop in its tracks and allow your skin to start healing. It isn’t very much fun, but it is absolutely essential to ensuring you minimise the long-term damage caused by the burn and speed up the healing process.
Treating the skin to help healing is the next step. After sun lotions can help, not only with healing but also with soothing the pain and itching you’ll feel as healing progresses. Many brands provide a variety of after sun lotions, and it may be worth it to try a variety and ensure you get one that works for you. The result of application should be a cooling, soothing feeling; if you get any burning sensation at all you’re intolerant to one of the ingredients and need to use something else as you won’t be getting any relief.
Aloe vera is extremely successful in the treatment of any type of burn, and you can use an aloe vera cream or gel instead of an after sun cream. Some people claim that aloe vera is more effective than any after sun treatment; your mileage may vary, but if you can locate an after sun cream with aloe vera you’ll be getting the best of both worlds.
Infection is always a concern, and to this end you should avoid picking at the skin. This can be difficult when it starts peeling, but there is a risk of opening up the skin which can lead to severe infections that may well land you in hospital. The same is true if you sustain a sunburn so severe that it blisters the skin; open wounds are always an infection risk and should be avoided at all costs.
Treating sunburn carefully allows you to improve healing and avoid infection. Work towards preventing it at all costs, but when you act too late, don’t forget that every action can make a big difference to the eventual outcome.