You’re at your sister’s barbecue, drinking cold beer and catching some rays… a couple beers later and you start to get a headache and a tingly, stinging sensation on your skin. You remove your sunglasses only to find two large, white circles around your eyes. Your fingertips on your skin leave white marks and you feel the burn.
While prevention is the best way to avoid a sunburn, there are a few ways to do damage control.
1. Aloe Vera Gel
This blue or green goop is one of the first things you can do to ease the pain of a sunburn. It’s a classic product, but it works. When you are first applying the gel, don’t rub it in too much to the skin, leave it to sit on top to help cool the burn. Continue to re-apply a few times a day to reduce inflammation. Tip: Store your aloe gel in your fridge so it has an extra cooling-sensation!
2. Cortisone Cream
While using a moisturizer will help your skin from peeling, if your burn is more serious, a cortisone cream contains a small dose of steroids, which will reduce inflammation. Look for hydrocortisone, which is usually available over the counter at a drugstore.
Popping an Advil right after prolonged sun exposure will help stop the pain of the burn, and reduce inflammation. Ibuprofen will also help prevent fevers and headaches resulting from a sunburn. While Tylenol might stop the pain, it will not reduce inflammation, but if you can’t take ibuprofen, Aspirin is an alternative as well.
It’s important to restore moisture in your skin and body, so hydrate with some cold water immediately after being exposed to the sun. Even if you feel cold, having a cool shower with no soap will calm down the burning sensation. For the next few days while your skin heals, avoid exfoliating and using harsh body products. Moisturize and wear light, soft cotton clothes so you don’t irritate your skin. And next time… don’t skip the sunscreen!