You Got Sunburned...Now What?
You stayed out too long in the sun, without proper sun protection...and you got sunburned. Now what?
In this blog post, Double board-certified Dermatologist Angela Casey MD shares some tips for treating sunburn. And she knows a thing or two about sunburns: Dr. Casey suffered numerous childhood and teenage blistering sunburns, before she recognized the importance of wearing sunscreen and sun-protective clothing/hats. Dr. Casey used baby oil to get a deeper tan in the summer months, went to tanning beds in the late 90s and early 2000s and was never concerned about her sunburns...because they always turned to tans (very flawed thinking!). Dermatology residency taught her a thing or two about what those sunburns were doing to her skin...and she's changed her habits ever since.
Dr. Casey's own daughters, who are very fair-skinned, have also had some mild childhood sunburns over the years (because they don't always listen to mom's advice on sun protection...)
Teen sunburns happen. Yes, prevention is always best (i.e. wear your sunscreen/hats/seek shade when you can/etc.) But if you do get a sunburn, knowing how to care for it will help your skin recover faster.
Tips for Treating Sunburns
- Because sunburn is an inflammatory reaction to UV rays, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, can mitigate the inflammation.
- Starting ibuprofen sooner rather than later is ideal, and NSAIDs help intercept the inflammatory process that results in skin damage.
- A washcloth or gauze soaked in cold water and applied to the skin can be helpful in alleviating inflammation and minimizing damage to the skin.
- Cool showers of baths are also beneficial.
- Ice should NOT be applied to the skin as this can cause further damage to the skin.
- While skin is damp from bathing, apply a moisturizing lotion or cream.
- Reapply every couple of hours and stay consistent with moisturizing for several days after the sunburn.
- Keeping the skin hydrated helps support the healing process as your skin recovers.
- Avoid petroleum or oil-based formulations as these can trap heat.
- Drink plenty of fluids and be sure to replenish electrolytes as needed.
- Your skin, and your body, need to stay hydrated to optimize recovery after a teen sunburn.
- Inflamed skin is more prone to water loss, which is another reason why adequate hydration and moisturization are so important.
Select Proper Clothing:
- Wear breathable, soft clothing that doesn't rub or scratch the skin.
- Loose-fitting, lightweight clothing will aid in your skin's recovery process.
Choose Supportive Skincare Products
- Avoid harsh soaps which can cause further irritation and sensitivity to the skin.
- Choose a gentle, pH-balanced skin cleanser.
And next time...be sure to apply your sunscreen!
Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or after swimming/sweating, when outdoors
We hope that you never have to experience a childhood or teen sunburn. But if you do, now you'll know how to get your skin through it.