A woman looks in the mirror at her terrible sunburn

Summertime, Sunburn-Time....What Now?

Last updated: July 2019

Ahh, summertime. The glorious time between Memorial Day and Labor Day marked by summer vacations. Pool days. Lazy days at the lake. The 4th of July holiday, which if we are lucky we can extend into a long weekend. Backyard barbecues. Baseball games. Amusement parks and water parks. So much fun to be had, and you’ve sure had it all.

Sunscreen mistakes

Lucky you! But with all the fun you’ve been having you forgot about sunscreen, and now you have what feels like a pretty nasty sunburn. And you’re not feeling quite so lucky. So what do you do now? What is the best way to treat that sunburn so you’re ready to once again enjoy all that summer offers?

Get out of the sun!

The first thing you should do is to get out of the sun. Preferably, you should go indoors. Once inside, taking frequent cool baths or showers may help relieve the pain. Be gentle with your skin, though – don’t scrub your skin and be sure to pat yourself dry instead of rubbing.

Soothe, soothe, soothe

Apply moisturizer after your bath or shower. Using a moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy can help soothe your skin. However, the American Academy of Dermatology advises that sunburns should not be treated with “-caine” products (such as benzocaine), as they may irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.

Some natural bath remedies to help ease sunburn pain include soaking in a bath with apple cider vinegar, oatmeal, lavender essential oil, or baking soda.

You can apply a cold compress to cool your skin, but do not apply ice directly to a sunburn.

Hydrate and reduce inflammation

Drink more water than you normally would, because a sunburn will draw fluid to your skin’s surface and away from the rest of your body, which can result in dehydration.

Take aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce swelling and discomfort. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream may be used on the sunburn to help relieve pain, itching and swelling. (Again, be gentle with your skin when applying.)

Keep it protected

Protect your skin while your sunburn heals. Don’t allow the sunburned area to burn again. If your skin starts to blister, do not pop the blisters. They are helping protect your skin from infection, and your skin will heal more quickly if you don't pop them.

If you have severe blistering and have a fever and/or chills, be sure to seek medical attention.

Prevention, however, is the best treatment. Summer is only here for a short time, so get back out there – but don’t forget your sunscreen!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Have you taken our In America survey yet?