This year promises to deliver very hot, very dry weather, especially across central and western North America. This means even though you plan to do everything you can to avoid it, you may at some point discover that you’ve stayed out a bit too long in the sun, and now you’re dealing with flushed, burnt skin instead of the golden tan you had envisioned.
A sunburn is a form of skin damage caused by exposure to UV rays. Those with fair skin and red hair are more prone to sunburns, but anyone exposed to UV rays, even on a cloudy day, is at risk of getting sunburnt. If you’d like some tips on how to boost your skin’s natural sun defense or how to avoid sunburns altogether, check out the article we wrote here. However, if you are already suffering from a sunburn, here’s how to treat it properly.
How to treat a sunburn
The first thing you should do once you notice a sunburn is to cover any burnt skin with loose clothing to protect it from any further damage, and if possible, get under the shade or inside.
If it’s just a mild burn, then sponging down the affected skin with lukewarm water to cool it or jumping into a cool shower should help mitigate some of the discomforts. Make sure to rub some after-sun cream or aloe vera moisturizer to soothe your skin and alleviate itchiness. You can expect a mild sunburn to heal within four to seven days.
If your symptoms include blistering, swelling skin, chills, fever, or even headaches, dizziness, and nausea, then your sunburn is more severe. In this case, you should seek professional advice from your local pharmacist or general practitioner, because a severe sunburn may require special burn cream and/or burn dressings.
Lastly, make sure to avoid alcohol (which further dries out the skin), stay hydrated, and drink plenty of water. If you’re experiencing dizziness, staying hydrated reduces the sensation, plus it will replace the fluids you lose through sweating.