Ways to Treat Sunburn

doug plummer via getty images
doug plummer via getty images

Nothing says summer quite like getting your first sunburn of the season. We all know how it goes: the gaping redness where your skin used to be, the excruciating pain that even the lightest touch can trigger and all the knowing glances from everybody you pass on the street. Sunburns are awful, and maybe the worst thing about them is that they’re almost completely preventable.

However, unless you’re buying SPF 50 and re-applying every couple of hours, even the most diligent of sunscreen users among us will never escape unscathed. There will always be that one day where a trip out to get groceries turns into an all-day errand marathon, and that’s when the sun will find you. Luckily, if you get burned, there are ways to ensure that you get back to normal as soon as possible.

At the first sign of sunburn (AKA as soon as your skin starts to get red), start making plans to dip out of whatever situation you’re in. If you’re chilling at the beach, go inside (or at least get yourself as far away from the sun as possible). The short-term effects of sunburn can take up to six hours to fully assert themselves, so once your skin starts to get red, you know you’re in trouble.  Things will only get worse, so it’s best to make like Olivia Pope and start assessing the damage ASAP. Once you’re back inside, there a few solutions you can try.

Number One. Place a cool compress over the burned area – for instance, soak a towel in cool water, place it in the fridge for a few minutes, and then apply it to your affected area for 10 minutes. Repeat the whole process two or three times a day.

Number Two. If you have a bunch of milk that’s going to go bad soon (or just think it would be fun to try), soak your towel in a half milk, half cold water solution and follow the instructions above. Milk contains lactic acid and whey protein, which are both anti-inflammatory.

Number Three. Apply an aloe-based cream or gel.

Number Four. Go for the gold and get a hydrocortisone cream – because sometimes you just don’t want to screw around with all-natural remedies.

In the meantime, make sure to drink plenty of water, and feel free to pop an ibuprofen or two to help with all that pain you’re probably experiencing. However, whatever you do, don’t attempt to ice your burn – the last thing you want is to get an ice burn on top of your sunburn.

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