At some point in our lives, we all get a painful sunburn that changes our sun safety habits for good. There are hundreds of homemade sunburn cures out there, but the most scientifically proven way to cure a sunburn is just waiting it out.
That doesn’t mean you have to suffer through the pain—there are many ways to cool the burn. Contrary to what seems logical, putting ice on burnt skin can cause more discomfort. Try a cool shower instead. Lying under cool towels is heavenly, but be cautious about putting any material on the burn too soon. The touch of fabric on a burn can be excruciating. Common pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help lessen the pain and reduce inflammation. When the burn starts to peel and itch, hydrocortisone creams such are a safe bet.
Did you know that sunburns dehydrate you? Your skin is a natural wall that keeps moisture in, but sunburns damage that barrier. Applying moisturizers like Aloe Vera gel can help keep you hydrated and bring relief. Refrigerate it for a cooling sensation on your skin. Be sure to drink lots of water to replenish your hydration levels, too.
Next time you spend a day in the sun, slather on sunscreen every two hours to reduce the risk of a burn, says the Skin Cancer Foundation. If you’re swimming, reapply every time you get out of the water. Don’t forget areas like the tops of ears, eyelids and feet, which can be extremely painful when burned.
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