Nothing says summer fun quite like spending time like entertaining, playing and basking in the sun. And of course, when enjoying the great outdoors, the best way to deal with sunburn is to avoid it completely by using a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher applied liberally and often. Add in a hat, some shady seating and sunglasses and you have the tools for a sunburn-free summer. But if you get burned (and who hasn’t at least once?), here are a few helpful tips to cool the fire:
1. Hydrate immediately. The skin is the body’s largest organ. The body can lose a lot of water through sunburned skin causing fatigue, headache and nausea. Drink enough water to rehydrate and allow the body to heal.
2. Take a cool bath or use cool water compresses. Sunburned skin is hot and painful and the best overall treatment is too cool it. If possible, add a quart of milk to the bath to coat the skin with a protective layer of protein; don’t rinse. Otherwise, drape towels soaked in cold water over the areas.
3. Take an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen to reduce pain.
4. Apply natural skin soothing gels and oils like aloe vera and tamanu oil. Pure aloe vera gel (snip the plant and apply the thick gel right to the skin) cools on contact, soothes and reduces inflammation. Lesser-known tamanu oil is from a tropical nut and has anti-inflammatory properties and promotes the healing of new skin underneath the sunburn.
5. If blisters form, hands off. The top of a blister is nature’s bandage that reduces the risk of infection so leave them alone.
6. Seek medical attention immediately if the majority of the skin’s surface is severely burned and starting to blister. Sun “poisoning” is a serious medical condition that requires rehydration and the advice of a medical professional.
With so many good sunscreen options available for every skin type, there is no excuse not to use it. But sunscreen isn’t the only factor to prevent sunburn. Truly protect you and your family from skin cancer by seeking shade if possible, wear hats and sunglasses, and avoid the sun when the ultraviolet rays are at their most powerful, between 10 am and 2 pm.