As you surely know, being proactive about not getting a sunburn is the smartest way to go, but accidents happen. Perhaps you fell asleep outside during the sun's peak hours or forgot to reapply sunscreen after taking a dip in the pool. Before you know it, your skin's bright red and tender to the touch, and even a slight breeze causes you to wince in pain. Here's how to soothe your burn while your skin heals.
Soothe your skin with cool water
Your skin feels hot, so you probably already feel like taking a cold shower, which is a good idea. Showering in cool water or soaking in a cool bath may help to take some of the stinging pain away. You can also apply clothes soaked in cold water to your skin.
Use skin care products with soothing ingredients
Look for after-sun products containing vitamin E or aloe vera, which will help alleviate the burning sensation of your tender skin. Avoid products containing benzocaine, lidocaine or petroleum (like Vaseline), as these ingredients may irritate your sensitive, inflamed skin.
Keep the sunburned area well moisturized
Keeping your skin well hydrated with lotion may help you feel more comfortable. If, however, your burn has blistered, applying a dry bandage may be a better option, as it may help prevent infection.
Take oral medication or apply a topical cream
Consider taking a pain reliever such as ibuprofen. However, if it's your child who's gotten a sunburn, do not give him or her these over-the-counter medications. If you prefer to use something topical, a cream containing cortisone may help to soothe inflamed skin.
Dress in loose clothing
This is not the time to be wearing your skinny jeans or Herve Leger bandage dress. Until your burn has healed, wear loose clothing so you don't have fabric rubbing against your sore, burned skin.
See a doctor if your symptoms are severe
For a mild sunburn, you can use the methods outlined here to help you recuperate. However, you should seek medical help immediately if your sunburn is accompanied by a fever or you're experiencing other symptoms, such as dizziness, increased heart rate or breathing, faintness, clammy skin, nausea or extreme blistering.