How to Ease the Pain of a Sunburn

You've all read plenty of articles on the importance of sunscreen with the appropriate SPF.  In fact, we even wrote an article last month on beach safety tips with the quote of "sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen: this cannot be emphasized enough."

This article, however, is what to do if you nevertheless get sunburned by the ineffectual use of block or not using it altogether.

First off, drink plenty of water if you get a burn.  Sunburns can be quite dehydrating so aim to drink eight cups of water daily to replenish your body's supply.  This is a smart thing to do in general in the dog days of summer.  Second, take a cool shower or bath with less than lukewarm temperature for about 20 minutes.  This will ease pain and lessen the irritation from the burn, says Dr. Rebecca Baxt, a board certified and New York area-based dermatologist.  Don't use any soaps or bath oil as this can exacerbate the condition.  Also, if you see blisters forming from a significant burn, take a bath rather than a shower.

Air-dry your body rather than towel off when you are done with your 20 minute shower or bath.  Rubbing with a towel can further irritate the skin.  Then use your fingertips to gently apply aloe on your burn.  Do not rub the lotion in but rather dab it so as not to cause drying out and further irritation, adds Dr. Baxt.  If you have to be somewhere important, you can consider using over-the-counter cortisone creams from your local drug store or pharmacy.  The low doses of steroids found in these cortisone creams can reduce inflammation at the sunburn's site.

Again, we cannot stress the importance of slathering SPF all over your body.  Read the bottle or tube's instructions for reapplication directions.  If you wind up burned, however, the steps that Dr. Baxt suggests should reduce the pain you feel.