We asked some of our SkinCancer.net contributors for their tips on how to deal with sunburn. Even though summer is coming to an end, these tips can be used year round as anyone can get burned any time of year.
7 Sunburn tips
- Treat sunburn immediately or as quickly as possible – don’t wait until the end of the day to apply ointment or aloe.
- Apply sunscreen to any burnt area as soon as it appears red; cover the area up with clothing if possible to reduce further damage.
- Do NOT consider a burn the start of a “base tan”. While the skin may appear to heal, the damage is being done below the surface.
- Apply a good moisturizing cream to the areas affected to keep the skin from drying and cracking. An aloe-based gel can provide cooling comfort in addition to helping the skin rejuvenate.
- Don’t compound the situation by forgetting sunscreen the next day; a bad sunburn is made worse when exposed to additional UV rays. Apply a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB protection) SPF of 30 or higher, and/or cover up the afflicted areas.
- Go easy on your skin when bathing or showering – avoid hot water (especially Jacuzzi or hot tubs!) with direct contact, and GENTLY use liquid soap to clean. Air or pat dry.
- If the burn is causing significant pain, go see a dermatologist as soon as possible. A sunburn is damage to the biggest organ in your body – your skin. It should not be ignored!
Don’t forget baking soda for sunburns
I’ve had skin cancer for over twenty years, and the last thing I need is to get sunburnt. Although I can’t even remember the last time that I had a sunburn, I unfortunately got one last weekend. The day was beautiful: partly cloudy, low humidity, a nice breeze….a perfect day to spend a little time outdoors reading. It turns out the sun was stronger than I had realized, though, and I ended up with a sunburn. Fortunately it was a mild sunburn. Instead of physical pain, this left me dealing with the emotional aftermath of how could I be so careless to get a sunburn. I know that sunburns aren’t good for me. They aren’t good for anyone, but they especially aren’t good for someone with recurrent skin cancer.
In the past (prior to my long history with skin cancer), I had more than a few sunburns, and I found that adding baking soda (approximately two cups) to bathwater – make sure the water isn’t hot! – and taking ibuprofen helped ease the effects of the burn. Aloe also did the trick of providing relief. And don’t forget the moisturizing lotion; slather it on to frequently keep your skin hydrated and help with the almost-inevitable peeling.
Finding the positive from getting sunburnt, though, can be that perhaps the misery you’re feeling from your sunburn will help remind you to wear sunscreen next time and avoid over-exposure to the sun, as the best way to deal with a sunburn is to prevent it in the first place.