My face is sunburned

Sunburn & Your Skin

For Adults: 5 Ways to Treat a Sunburn

1. Act Fast to Cool It Down

If you’re near a cold pool, lake or ocean, take a quick dip to cool your skin, but only for a few seconds so you don’t prolong your exposure. Then cover up and get out of the sun immediately. Continue to cool the burn with cold compresses. You can use ice to make ice water for a cold compress, but don’t apply ice directly to the sunburn. Or take a cool shower or bath, but not for too long, which can be drying, and avoid harsh soap, which might irritate the skin even more.

2. Moisturize While Skin Is Damp

While skin is still damp, use a gentle moisturizing lotion (but not petroleum or oil-based ointments, which may trap the heat and make the burn worse). Repeat to keep burned or peeling skin moist over the next few days.

3. Decrease the Inflammation

If it is safe for you to do so, take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin at the first sign of sunburn to help with discomfort and inflammation, says Dr. Brackeen, who practices at the Skin Cancer Institute in Lubbock, Texas. You can continue with the NSAIDs as directed on the label until the burn feels better. You can also use an over-the-counter 1 percent cortisone cream as directed for a few days to help calm redness and swelling. Aloe vera may also soothe mild burns and is generally considered safe. Continue with cool compresses to help discomfort, wear loose, soft, breathable clothing to avoid further skin irritation and stay out of the sun entirely until the sunburn heals.

4. Replenish Your Fluids

Burns draw fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body, so you may become dehydrated, explains Dr. Brackeen. It’s important to rehydrate by drinking extra liquids, including water and sports drinks that help to replenish electrolytes, immediately and while your skin heals.

5. See a Doctor If …

You should seek medical help if you or a child has severe blistering over a large portion of the body, has a fever and chills or is woozy or confused. Don’t scratch or pop blisters, which can lead to infection. Signs of infection include red streaks or oozing pus.

Bottom line: Your skin will heal, but real damage has been done. “Repeat sunburns put you at a substantial risk for skin cancer and premature skin aging, and I want people to ‘learn from the burn,’” Dr. Brackeen says. Review our sun protection guidelines. Remember how bad this sunburn felt, then commit to protecting yourself from the sun every day, all year long.

For Children

Your baby’s skin: soft, sweet-smelling, vulnerable. You notice that when you’re diapering: irritation develops easily, but a soothing cream clears it up like magic.

Young skin heals faster than older skin, but it is also less able to protect itself from injury, including injury from the sun.

Babies under 6 months of age should never be exposed to the sun. Babies older than 6 months should be protected from the sun, and wear UV-blocking sunglasses to protect their eyes. If your child becomes sunburned, follow these guidelines:

  • Bathe in clear, tepid water to cool the skin.
  • For a baby less than 1 year old, sunburn should be treated as an emergency. Call your doctor immediately.
  • For a child 1 year or older, call your doctor if there is severe pain, blistering, lethargy or fever over 101○ F (38.3○ C).
  • Sunburn can cause dehydration. Give your child water or juice to replace body fluids. Contact the doctor if the child is not urinating regularly; this is an emergency.
  • Apply light moisturizing lotion to soothe the skin, but don’t rub it in.
  • Dabbing on plain calamine lotion may help, but don’t use one with an added antihistamine.
  • Do not apply alcohol, which can overcool the skin.
  • Do not use any medicated cream such as hydrocortisone or benzocaine unless instructed by your pediatrician.
  • Keep your child out of the sun entirely until the sunburn heals.
  • Practice sun protection and make sure that no matter where you child goes, sun safety is taken into account.

If there’s one thing we’re willing to get redundant about here at Allure, it’s sunscreen. But we get it — even a religious devotion to your SPF doesn’t make you totally immune to the sun’s harmful rays. So, we asked the experts how to treat (and prevent) a sunburn on the off chance you get burned.

A sunburn is the result of your skin getting too much exposure to damaging ultraviolet rays — especially the dangerous UVB rays from the sun, Shari Marchbein, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, tells Allure. “Sunburns may seem temporary but can cause long-lasting damage to the skin by significantly increasing the risk of skin cancers, wrinkles, and sun spots,” she says.

Since sunburns are relatively commonplace, it’s easy to think getting scorched isn’t really that bad. But research shows that even one bad burn has a significant impact on your risk for developing skin cancer.

“Having five blistering sunburns can increase your risk of developing melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 80 percent,” says Marchbein.

In a perfect world, you’d be so slathered in SPF you’d prevent 100 percent of sunburns (and even tans), Marchbein says. But since sun happens, here’s how to treat a sunburn if you get one.

1. Hydrate

When you get a sunburn, UV light causes inflammation in the skin similar to what you might get from a thermal burn from the oven,” Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital and a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, tells Allure.

“That’s why it’s important to hydrate the skin and help repair the skin barrier as quickly as possible,” he says. The easiest way to do that is from the outside-in. For the most skin-soothing effects, look for a moisturizer containing aloe, which helps calm burned skin. Zeichner recommends Vaseline Intensive Care Aloe Soothe Lotion.

Hydrating from the inside-out can also help treat a sunburn. “A sunburn draws fluids to the skin’s surface away from the rest of the body,” Marchbein explains. To compensate, drink plenty of H2O.

2. Decrease swelling

You can also treat a sunburn by reducing inflammation from the inside-out, Zeichner explains. Popping an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pill (like Advil), can help reduce swelling and redness, plus help you deal with any pain.

3. Protect any blisters

If your burn blisters (which makes it a second-degree burn) it’s important to keep any blisters from popping. “Leave them intact and do not rupture or peel them,” Marchbein cautions.

Not only will the burn heal more quickly, it will also lower your risk of getting any infections. “If the burn is severe, see a board-certified dermatologist,” Marchbein adds. “Prescription steroid creams can sometimes be used to help speed healing.”

4. Fight lasting free-radical damage

While a burn will heal within a few days, the free-radical damage done by UV rays is forever. “UV light promotes the production of free radicals, which harm collagen and elastin, as well as damage the DNA of your skin cells,” Zeichner says. This damage is what causes early aging effects and ups your risk of skin cancer, he explains.

Applying a vitamin C serum can help. “You can’t undo your exposure, but antioxidants can help minimize the harmful effects,” Zeichner says.

5. Prevent further sun damage

The best treatment is prevention, Marchbein says. While your sunburned skin is healing, it’s extra important to protect it from further sun exposure. Stay in the shade, wear SPF-protective clothing, and of course, wear your sunscreen.

“Most people do not apply enough sunscreen to get the listed SPF,” Marchbein says. She recommends using a shot glass-sized portion of at least SPF 30 and reapplying every two hours. Whether you prefer neon, glitter, or a good old-fashioned sunscreen formula, don’t leave the house without your SPF.

For more sun protection:

  • How to Tell If Your Sunscreen Has Expired
  • Why You Should Always Apply Your Sunscreen After Your Moisturizer
  • Jennifer Garner’s Favorite Sunscreen to Wear Under Her Makeup

Now, see 100 years of sun care:

Sunburn is frustrating. It doesn’t matter where it happens on your body, or how small of a surface the burn covers—sunburn hurts. What’s worse is that sunburn can actually lead to major health consequences. Sun poisoning and skin cancer are both frequently the result of sunburn, and these are just the long-term consequences. A day or two following your sunburn, pain will be replaced by severe itching, dryness, and peeling skin.

While sunburn is bad enough anywhere on your body, when it is on your face there is nowhere for it to hide. Once the skin starts to peel, the healing process will be on display for anyone and everyone to see. This is why if you find yourself sunburned, the best thing that you can do is act early.

Here are a few tips for treating sunburn on your face:

  • For immediate relief from the burning sensation, place a cool compress on your face. A cold, wet towel is your best option here. Make sure that you don’t rub your face, as this will hurt against the sunburn.

  • Put aloe on your face as soon as you are able to. The sooner you can apply aloe, the better your skin will be able to recover. Ideally, put aloe on before and after the cold compress. Remember to reapply aloe regularly.

  • Keep your face out of the sun! Just because you already have a sunburn doesn’t mean that you’re immune from getting more or worsening your current burn. Your face is one of the most exposed parts of your body. Keep it safe by wearing a hat and applying SPF before leaving your house.

Soothing the Burn

Treating sunburn on your face requires a lot of the same strategies as treating sunburn anywhere on your body. Chances are if you are sunburned on your face, you might be sunburned in other places, too.

Staying hydrated is the most essential thing that you can do to help ease your sunburn. When you hydrate your body, you hydrate your skin. Sunburn dries out your skin rather severely, so the more moisture you can send to that burn, the better. Topical ointments can only do so much. If you want to really achieve relief from your burn, you need to be downing a lot of water.

Keep in mind that the sun can wreak havoc on your face a lot easier than it can other parts of your body for a variety of reasons. Aside from the fact that your face is typically more exposed than the rest of your body, your face may also be more sensitive. Most skin medications, including acne medications, will make your face more sensitive to the sun. This means your face may burn before any other part of your body does.

Prevent facial sunburn by applying SPF before you leave the house. The SPF found in foundation or other make-up is a great start, but for optimal relief you need to use broad spectrum SPF. Then, reapply regularly, especially if you are out in the sun throughout the day. Being proactive and taking care of your skin like this can help save you from a lot of pain later.

For more information, reach out to your dermatologist for support. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 770-251-5111 today.

How to treat sunburn

Your skin can burn if it gets too much sun without proper protection from sunscreen and clothes. To help heal and soothe stinging skin, it is important to begin treating sunburn as soon as you notice it. Follow these dermatologists’ tips to help relieve the discomfort.

Your skin can burn if it gets too much sun without proper protection from sunscreen and clothes. To help heal and soothe stinging skin, it is important to begin treating sunburn as soon as you notice it. The first thing you should do is get out of the sun—and preferably indoors.

Once indoors, these dermatologists’ tips can help relieve the discomfort:

  1. Take frequent cool baths or showers to help relieve the pain. As soon as you get out of the bathtub or shower, gently pat yourself dry, but leave a little water on your skin. Then, apply a moisturizer to help trap the water in your skin. This can help ease the dryness.

  2. Use a moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy to help soothe sunburned skin. If a particular area feels especially uncomfortable, you may want to apply a hydrocortisone cream that you can buy without a prescription. Do not treat sunburn with “-caine” products (such as benzocaine), as these may irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.

  3. Consider taking aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce any swelling, redness and discomfort.

  4. Drink extra water. A sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body. Drinking extra water when you are sunburned helps prevent dehydration.

  5. If your skin blisters, allow the blisters to heal. Blistering skin means you have a second-degree sunburn. You should not pop the blisters, as blisters form to help your skin heal and protect you from infection.

  6. Take extra care to protect sunburned skin while it heals. Wear clothing that covers your skin when outdoors. Tightly-woven fabrics work best. When you hold the fabric up to a bright light, you shouldn’t see any light coming through.

Although it may seem like a temporary condition, sunburn—a result of skin receiving too much exposure from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays—can cause long-lasting damage to the skin. This damage increases a person’s risk for getting skin cancer, making it critical to protect the skin from the sun.

For questions about your sunburn or to learn how to better protect your skin from the sun, see a board-certified dermatologist.

Related AAD resources

  • Sunscreen Resource Center

We get it: Everyone can be a little careless with the SPF from time to time, yet no one wants to walk around with a bright-red sunburn, peeling skin, or icky-looking blisters. Those awkward tan lines alone provide enough incentive to reduce inflammation ASAP.

The bad news: While the color may eventually fade, a sunburn causes lasting damage that’s impossible to “get rid” of. Repeated exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun’s rays increases your risk of skin cancer, not to mention premature aging, the Mayo Clinic states. Even one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

The good news: Plenty of home remedies can help promote healing and reduce discomfort in the short term. Here’s how you can make that redness go away faster, plus some of top-tested sunscreens from the Good Housekeeping Institute that will save your skin the next time around.

1. Take a cool bath or shower.

Keep the temp low and then lather on moisturizer as soon as you get out, the AAD advises. The cool H20 may help relieve the pain and reduce inflammation, and the lotion will help trap moisture in and ease dryness.

2. Apply aloe.

There’s a reason why it’s the go-to after-sun product. Pure aloe vera gel — whether out of a bottle or straight from the plant — contains cooling and soothing properties. It can also potentially promote wound healing, according to the Mayo Clinic.

3. Use an ice pack or compress.

Wrap ice in a cloth before applying it directly to your skin, or soak a washcloth in cold water or milk and place that on the burn. The vitamins and antioxidants in milk can help your skin heal, says dermatologist Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D., medical director of Mudgil Dermatology in Manhattan and Long Island, New York.


4. Drink lots of water.

A sunburn draws fluid to the skin and away from the rest of the body, according to the AAD. Rehydrate by downing plenty of H20. (That doesn’t include margaritas though; alcohol can make the problem worse.)

5. Don’t pop any blisters.

Severe and widespread blisters require a doctor’s attention, but if you get a few, leave ’em be. Opening them up makes them vulnerable to infection, the AAD says. If they pop naturally, the Mayo Clinic advises cleaning the open wound with mild soap and water and covering it with antibiotic ointment and a bandage.

6. Protect against further damage.

If you need to go outside again, wear clothing that covers your skin and stay in the shade. Don’t forget to apply lots of sunscreen as well — at least a shot glass-full for the body, a nickel-size dollop for the face, says GH Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D.

7. Try over-the-counter medications.

The pharmacy aisles can also help with the healing process, if you reach for the right stuff:

  • Take aspirin or ibuprofen: An OTC pain reliever like Advil can help reduce swelling and discomfort, the AAD says.
  • Rub on a hydrocortisone cream: A mild topical steroid like Cortizone-10 may speed up healing, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Don’t apply “-caine” products: Topical anesthetics like benzocaine may further irritate the skin and even trap heat in. No good.

While you’re letting your aloe soak in, shop these favorite sunscreens and stash a bottle in your beach bag, car, purse, and other key spots. Then don’t forget to apply a lot of it, often!

Shop Sunscreens

Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector™ Water-Light Lotion SPF 50 $29.00 Australian Gold X-treme Sport SPF 50 Spray Gel Sunscreen Neutrogena CoolDry Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 70 $8.99 Banana Boat SunComfort Sunscreen SPF 50 $10.59 Caroline Picard Health Editor Caroline is the Health Editor at covering nutrition, fitness, wellness, and other lifestyle news.

It isn’t until you settle on your sun lounger, slather on some SPF and open up your new book that you can finally breathe that sweet sigh of holiday relief.

Until you fast forward a few hours later and wake up and find vacation’s biggest enemy: sunburn. On your face.

Related Story

A sunburnt face is incredibly painful and should be treated straightaway. The first thing to do is to get out of the sun as soon as possible.

Dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting says, ‘It’s amazing how many people will continue to expose a red sunburnt face, waiting for skin to turn brown. Stay out of the sun!’

Once you’re inside, cool your skin with cold water or a cold compress to soothe the sunburn. Additionally, avoid dehydration by drinking lots of water, as burns draw fluid from the skin’s surface and the rest of your body.

As your skin begins to cool, it’s important to ensure you apply the correct ingredients to avoid further irritation.

Dr Bunting says, ‘Sunburnt skin will absorb skincare products more readily, as your barrier function is reduced.’ This means your sunburnt skin is highly sensitive and more susceptible to a reaction.

Plume CreativeGetty Images

Because of this, Dr Bunting recommends keeping skincare as simple as possible and to avoid active ingredients, such as retinol and alpha hydroxy acids.

‘I’d also skip all exfoliants and perfumed skincare – the blander, the better,’ she adds.

Dr Bunting suggests ‘taking an oral anti-inflammatory’.

Additionally, she says, ‘Seek out a good moisturiser with anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe vera – applied straight from the fridge, this will feel great.’

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Sunburn can seriously ruin your tanning plans when Summer finally appears for all of two days. For some of us of a more wan complexion, it’s tempting to bare all and let the sun work its magic on our English rose (ok, ridiculously pale) skin.

But when skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, it seems kind of crazy to take the risk (seriously, get your hands on a decent sun cream ASAP).

And while, obviously, the end goal is to avoid getting burnt completely, sometimes, even when we’re totally on it with the SPF50 situation, sunburn still seems to find us.

We caught up with consultant dermatologist at Sloane Street’s Cadogan Clinic, Dr Anjali Mahto to get her advice on how to treat sunburn and lose that lobster look for good…

How To Treat Sunburn Quickly

1. Cover Up

‘If you’ve accidentally burned your skin in the sun, cover up the affected areas and stay in the shade until your sunburn has healed.’

2. Let Skin Breathe

‘Wear loose cotton clothing that allows your skin to ‘breathe’ over the sunburnt areas.’

3. Pain Relief

‘If you’re in pain, analgesia or painkillers can help relieve this and reduce inflammation caused by sunburn. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are ideal and should be continued for a period of at least 48 hours if there are no contraindications. Paracetamol will help with pain but has little effect on inflammation.’

4. See A Dermatologist

’If you’re at all concerned about the possible damage the sun has done to your skin, make an appointment to see your dermatologist who can assess and advise you appropriately.’

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How To Get Rid Of Pain And Redness From Sunburn

1. Apply A Cool Compress

‘…e.g. a towel dampened with cool water for 15 minutes, or take a cool bath or shower. Aim to keep the temperature just below luke-warm and make sure the shower has a gentle flow of water rather than being on full power. If blisters are starting to develop, then a bath is preferable.’

2. Shower After-Care

‘Do not rub your skin with a towel, but gently pat it dry when you get out. After a bath or shower, use an un-perfumed cream or lotion to soothe the skin. Applications of this are necessary to reduce the appearance of peeling and this may need to be continued for several weeks.

‘Aloe vera or soy containing gels or lotions can be beneficial in soothing the skin. Aloe vera not only has a cooling effect on the skin but also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Be wary of using creams or lotions that contain petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine, as these can trap heat in the skin or cause local skin irritation.’

3. Steroid Cream

‘Using a weak steroid cream such as 0.5-1% hydrocortisone for 48 hours may decrease pain and swelling caused by sunburn and speed up the healing process, however this is best avoided in small children.’

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How To Cover Up Sunburn

When you look more like Rudolph than Ratajkowski, here’s how to cover up your sunburn courtesy of Digital Beauty Editor George Driver.

If you’ve got a burnt nose…

The key to covering an awkward red nose is colour correction. Apply a green colour corrector on any redness before applying concealer. It’ll neutralise any warm tones and create a better base for your concealer.

Finish with a sweep of bronzer across your nose and cheekbones to make the whole thing look totally intentional.


If you’ve got sunglasses marks…

The dreaded panda eyes – we’ve all been there. Add liquid bronzer or tinting drops to your usual foundation to take it a few shades darker.

Blend into the white areas around your eyes and onto your cheeks.

Finish with a bronze eyeshadow to make the faux glow really hit home.

Getty Images

If you’ve got strap marks…

A mesh of mis-matched bikini strap lines doesn’t exactly scream chic.

Apply instant tan to a BeautyBlender or make-up sponge and bounce onto the areas that are looking a little pale to fill in the lines.

ELLE Edit: 10 Of The Best Sun Creams To Prevent Sunburn

Piz Buin Hydro Infusion Sun Gel Cream SPF30 – £17.99


Forget pasty, white creams of old, this super hydrating lightweight gel is the future of sun cream. Enriched with Vitamin E, the non-sticky formula protects your skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays as well as chlorine and salt water.

Dermalogica Prisma Protect SPF30 – £58


Protecting your skin from the sun might be good for you, but it’s not always good for the environment. With up to 10% of coral reefs being threatened by sunscreen-induced bleaching, it’s time to swap your regular sun cream for an earth-friendly one. Dermalogica’s reef-friendly SPF provides broad spectrum protection whilst also boosting your skin’s natural luminosity. Win, win.

Vichy Solar Protective Water – £19


If heavy, paint-like white creams aren’t your bag (are they anyone’s??) then this super lightweight spray is for you. Formulated with hero ingredient hyaluronic acid, this keeps parched skin hydrated and protected.

Avène Spray SPF50+ – £20


Formulated specially for sensitive skin prone to sunburn, this super high protection spray defends against harmful UVA and UVB rays, whilst the Avène Thermal Spring Water soothes any heat-inflicted irritation.

Institut Esthederm Adaptasun Body Lotion – £44.50


Based around the concept of using melanin to train your skin to protect itself against the sun, this SPF-free lotion lets you tan the safe way.

Soleil Toujours Organic Sheer Sunscreen Mist SPF50 – £32


One for the organic lovers out there, this sun cream is fortified with green tea leaf extract to prevent burning and stop those wrinkles. Anti-aging sun cream = a yes from us.

Nivea Sun Caring Roll-On SPF50 – £5


A roll-on sun cream?! Yup, Nivea’s game-changing roll-on delivers SPF50 for under a fiver.

Sisley Super Soin Solaire Milky Body Mist SPF30 – £92


Possibly the most indulgent sun cream ever, this lightweight mist protects against harmful UVA and UVB rays helping to protect against the effects of photo-aging.

Riemann P20 Sun Filter SPF20 – £24.49


One application of this genius sun cream is enough for ten hours worth of protection which means no messy lotions while you’re trekking through the jungle. Or, you know, sitting by the pool…

Natura Bissé C+C Dry Oil Antioxidant Sun Protection SPF30 – £56


Enriched with powerful antioxidants to shield against the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation, you can use this multi-tasking sun cream on your skin and hair.

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Sunburn is no freaking joke. Besides the literal skin-on-fire sensation, stats show that five or more sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20 can increase your risk of melanoma — the most deadly type of skin cancer — by 80 percent, says Dr. Shari Lipner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine, and member of the American Academy of Dermatology.

So, yeah, your best course of action is to load up on at least one ounce of SPF 15 or higher, reapply every two hours, and stay in the shade during peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Because there are a lot of (important) rules to follow, it’s likely that you’ll end up lobstered at some point—and that’s probably why you’re reading this now. However, you can ease that sick burn and heal up faster with a few tricks, says Dr. Lipner. And that’s awesome since a nasty sunburn could leave you with redness and pain as well as blistering, dehydration, and even fever for up to week, she says.

Here’s what to do the second you realize the sun got you good.

1. Moisturize In the Shower

A cool shower or bath can soothe the skin by reducing inflammation. Just opt for an oatmeal- or soy-based soap. When you’re finished, pat your bod down with a towel, leaving a little water. Then, slather on some moisturizer containing aloe vera or soy to trap the H2O, which can prevent dryness, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

2. Keep Up the Cold Compress

Apply a cold, wet washcloth to your burn for 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day to soothe your skin, per the American Academy of Dermatology. If that’s not doing it for you, move on to step three.

3. Ice It Down

Because you can’t spend the next three to five days in a cold shower, apply a towel-wrapped ice pack to the affected area for quick relief. Leave it on for five minutes, then reapply a few times a day as needed.

4. Continue Lubing Up

While sunburn leaves the outer layer of your skin in shambles, moisturizer can help seal the top layer of broken skin, protecting against infections and irritation until the skin repairs itself. There are plenty of homemade hacks to soothe sunburns, but Dr. Lipner says the best topical treatment by far is aloe vera, a natural anti-inflammatory that doubles as a cooling agent. OTC hydrocortisone cream takes a close second — particularly if your sunburn feels itchy. Any fragranced product can irritate the skin, so lay off it.

And if you’ve managed to burn your scalp and don’t want to succumb to greasy roots? Stick with the ice hack above to sooth the skin and wear a hat anytime you’re in the sun.

Get All Up In this Sunburn First-Aid Swag

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5. Relax Your Skincare Routine

Sun damage can make your skin extra sensitive to ingredients you typically use without a problem, triggering itchiness, rashes, or blisters. Keep it simple with a gentle cleanser and moisturizer formulated for sensitive skin. Avoid face masks, acne medications, anti-aging products, harsh toners, and exfoliants, plus any products that contain lidocaine or benzocaine, numbing agents that may sound like a good idea but can actually cause sunburned skin — which is extra sensitive — to flare up, worsening open wounds.

Last thing: Don’t cover up redness with makeup, which can also irritate your skin.

6. Drink All the Water

Because you can lose water through damaged skin, sunburns can dry you out. And while there isn’t a whole lot of data on exactly how much you need to drink to rehydrate, Dr. Lipner recommends refilling your glass a little more than usual. Just don’t let your burn drive you to drink something stronger than water: Alcohol’s dehydrating effects won’t help you heal any faster.

7. Pop an Anti-Inflammatory

When taken within the first few hours of sustaining a sunburn and every four to six hours thereafter until the pain subsides, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) such as ibuprofen can reduce inflammation (duh) and expedite recovery. Once swelling subsides, your skin cells can repair the sunburned skin’s barrier and generate new skin, says Dr. Lipner.

Unlike singeing your hand under hot water or near a flame, sunburn reaches below the skin’s surface and actually damages your DNA, which leaves you extra susceptible to skin cancer. If only a couple Advil could stop that.

8. Wear Your Comfiest Clothes

Tight clothing and snug straps can chafe, triggering painful blistering on skin that’s already damaged. To save yourself from aggravating the area, wear loose clothing that doesn’t stick to the skin — even if it means wearing a strapless bra to keep sunburned shoulders bare. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon blends will keep the skin cool. So those sweat-wicking shirts you wear to the gym will be your BFFs.

9. Bandage Up Blisters

Do not pop or manipulate blisters, says Dr. Lipner. Just keep them clean, dry, and bandaged during the day. At night, remove the bandages to give you skin some air.

When Ibuprofen and Ice Packs Just Aren’t Enough…

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10. Seek Some Shade

Hang outside after sunburn symptoms first crop up, and you could do more damage to the area or expand it, according to Dr. Lipner, who warns that sand, salt water, and chlorine can all aggravate the skin to increase pain and potential for infection.If you can’t peel yourself off the beach, then reapply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of 30 SPF to the affected area and the rest of your body, which is susceptible to sunburn regardless of how tan you are (base tans are a total myth, FWIW). Then find some shade and cover the exposed area with clothing. Any fabric you can’t see light through when you hold it up the sun should have a tight-enough weave to protect you. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat is another genius move with a bonus: You’ll look ~*cHiC*~ AF.

11. Don’t Freak

“Areas that have gotten more sunburns are at increased risk for skin cancers,” Dr. Lipner says. But freaking out won’t lend you a lifeline, and stress itself can actually trigger unhealthy behaviors that could increase your cancer risk even more, according to National Cancer Institute (NCI) data.

Only vigilance can help you avoid further damage and detect any weird skin things that result from lax sun safety. It’s why suffering one bad sunburn is ever the more reason to wear sunscreen daily. Use this NCI guide to do a self skin exam once a month to assess any moles and make sure nothing’s changing, and see a board-certified dermatologist for an annual examination. “We can only do our best to protect ourselves and our skin,” Dr. Lipner says. So really, don’t beat yourself up — just be smart now that the damage is done.

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Elizabeth Narins Senior fitness and health editor Elizabeth Narins is a Brooklyn, NY-based writer and a former senior editor at, where she wrote about fitness, health, and more.

10 Natural Remedies for Sunburns

If your child gets sunburned, make sure she drinks plenty of fluids since sunburns are dehydrating, and keep her out of the sun until she’s healed. Contact your pediatrician immediately if your child is under age 1 or if she has blisters, severe pain, lethargy, or a fever higher than 101 degrees. For mild sunburns, try these all-natural skin soothers.


Wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen veggies in a soft towel and apply to the burn. Never place ice directly on skin as it can cause frostbite and more damage.

Cool Water

A cool (but not too cold) bath, shower, or moist compress takes away heat and pain. Don’t scrub skin or use products like bath oils, soap, or bubble bath.

Aloe Vera

The gel from inside this cactus plant eases discomfort, speeds healing, and moisturizes skin. Either split a plant leaf and apply the sap directly to skin, or buy pure aloe vera gel at your local drugstore.


The sticky stuff’s been used as a topical burn salve since Egyptian days. “Studies suggest it may work better than some antibiotic creams at speeding up healing, reducing infection, and minimizing pain,” says Kathi Kemper, M.D., author of The Holistic Pediatrician. Note: Skip this remedy for babies younger than 12 months, as accidental ingestion of the honey could put them at risk for developing infant botulism.


Finely ground oatmeal (sold as colloidal oatmeal in drug stores) works as an anti-inflammatory when mixed with bath water. Make your own by pulverizing a cup of instant or slow-cooking oatmeal in a blender or food processor until it has a smooth, fine consistency. Pour into tepid bath water and soak.

Witch Hazel

Wet a washcloth or cotton gauze with this anti-inflammatory astringent and apply to the skin three or four times a day for 20 minutes to minimize pain and itching.


Place a washcloth or cotton gauze soaked in cool milk on the reddened area to create a protein film that eases discomfort and reduces heat.

Baking Soda or Cornstarch

Soaking in bathwater mixed with baking soda or cornstarch can relieve inflammation and itching.

Cider Vinegar

Acetic acid in vinegar alleviates pain, itching, and inflammation. Pour one cup of white cider vinegar into tepid bath water and soak.

Coriander Oil

Studies suggest rubbing this essential oil onto sunburned skin may reduce inflammation.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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