It’s summer time and after a recent heat wave it feels like the sun from Mario 3 is chasing me around, determined to roast me like a dead lizard on the highway.
People throw around words like “melanoma” and “cancer”, but let’s face it, no one likes a sunburn. Aside from the obvious health risks, they hurt! Plus you look like a giant tomato and everyone thinks they are being super clever when they ask , “Get a little sun?”. If you are one of those people that asks that question, it isn’t clever; a better comment would be “Holy crap, your face! Can I get you something?”
The absolute best possible solution would be to avoid a sunburn in the first place but I don’t think people just sit around thinking, “Man, you know what would make this weekend awesome? A sunburn! And that’ll really look great at my meeting first thing Monday. Genius!” it’s probably safe to assume that a sunburn is going to happen at one point or another. Fear not! You can limit the horrible after effects of your day at the beach by using these tips.
Five Ways to Treat a Sunburn, FAST!
1) Treat the sunburn at the first sign of tingling/burning or redness- It takes anywhere from 4-6 hours for the symptoms of a sunburn to really develop (ever notice why you looked fine at the beach and turned into a lobster on your way home? Yeah, that wasn’t some comic book style mutation) so you want to try and get ahead of the problem. Ideally, this would mean getting out of the sun and putting on some sunscreen anyway but if you’re reading this it’s probably already too late.
2) Medicate- If possible, take a regular dose of Ibuprofen because it will not only relieve the pain, it’ll help the redness and swelling too. Other pain relievers will work but an anti-inflammatory is ideal. The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests doing this as soon as you see signs of a sunburn and keeping it up for 48 hours. ** Talk to your doctor ahead of time to make sure that medication is an option for you. **
3) Take a shower- Cool showers (or even lukewarm) feel amazing when you’re dealing with a sunburn. Not only will a shower take away some of the physical pain, you’ve probably been swimming or sweating and you want to rinse that off before moving on to step 4. Don’t scrub down or anything because that will just aggravate your skin and leave you more prone to infection, just let the water flow over you. If a shower isn’t an option, try to wipe down and apply a cool compress.
4) Moisturize- Once you’ve cooled down, gently apply lotion all over. You want to go with something creamy, not watery, and don’t rub it all the way in. For one, that would hurt pretty badly, secondly, it’ll help your skin retain moisture and prevent flaking. If you want, you can use something with extra vitamins but any lotion will do in a pinch. Heck, you could even just use sunscreen if that is all you have handy. I personally prefer to dab on some vinegar and then rub Aloe Vera everywhere (especially the kind with lidocaine) because that’s what my Momma always did so there might be some placebo effect going on. If you want to use a topical anti-inflammatory, go for it.
5) Hydrate- You should always be aware of your hydration levels, especially during summer, but if you have a sunburn you need to be extra careful to avoid dehydration. Water, juice, sports drinks, and surprisingly, pickle juice are excellent beverage choices to keep you hydrated. Sodas, coffee, and tea should be avoided or consumed in moderation since they aid dehydration and would be the opposite of helpful.
If you have having severe pain, fever, infection, blisters that cover 20% or more of your body, or if the sunburn doesn’t improve drastically after a few days of treatment, head on over to your doc. In fact, if you have an infection just go ahead and go. Infections suck every bit as much as sunburns and you want to get that taken care of before it’s a real problem.
Oh, and next time? Put on some sunscreen. At the very least take a floppy hat. They look awesome and protect you from the rays of the dreaded scareball.
**The information above is intended for educational purposes only. Talk to your doctor before taking any medication. Your safety is your responsibility**