Nothing disrupts the glow of summer like a nasty sunburn. The throbbing pain, discomfort, and blisters may fade in a few days, but the impact on your skin can be lifelong. The sun’s harmful rays can lead to cancer, premature aging, collagen depletion, and excessive pigmentation. So, whether you forgot to apply SPF correctly or just dozed off in the sun, here are expert suggestions on the best ways to deal with sunburn.
What Causes Sunburn?
Sunburn results from excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. When the skin absorbs these rays, it triggers an inflammatory response, leading to the painful condition we call sunburn. There are two types of UV rays that harm the skin – UVA rays penetrate deep, damaging collagen and elastin, the primary causes of premature skin aging. UVB rays, with higher energy, mainly damage the DNA in the cells constituting the skin’s surface.
3 Steps to Soothe Sunburn:
- Cooling the Skin: Start by moving away from the sun and cooling your skin. Stay in a cool environment, use cold compresses to reduce heat and inflammation. Taking frequent cold baths or showers can help alleviate the pain of sunburn. Remember to pat your skin dry instead of rubbing with a towel and avoid using irritating soaps that can further dry out the skin.
- Hydration and Care: Hydration is key to a quick recovery. When sunburned, your body loses a significant amount of water as the skin barrier starts to fail. Therefore, drinking plenty of water to compensate for fluid loss is crucial. While a cup of water won’t immediately solve the pain problem, anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen can help reduce further inflammation, minimizing cell damage and relieving discomfort.
- Moisturizing: After the cooling process, it’s essential to use a moisturizer to replenish lost moisture and restore the skin’s moisture barrier. Whether directly from plants or as part of skincare formulations, aloe vera is a key ingredient for sunburn. Research shows that aloe vera possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, aiding in skin soothing, pain relief, and accelerated healing. Ingredients like panthenol, urea, and calendula also contribute to calming and soothing both body and face.
Products to Avoid During Sunburn
Avoid using products with irritating or stimulating ingredients. This includes alcohol, fragrances, exfoliating acids, and all retinoids (such as retinol and tretinoin). Ensure all products used on the skin are gentle, and steer clear of any petroleum-based products as they can absorb heat and prolong the adverse effects of sunburn.
Peeling and Blisters: What to Do
Whether it’s peeling skin or blisters, it’s best to let your body heal. Don’t peel the skin layers, as they contribute to removing excess heat. As for blisters, they may indicate a more severe burn: it’s advisable not to pop them, as their formation aids in skin healing and protects you from infection.
Handling sunburn with care and following these expert tips can ease discomfort, promote healing, and protect your skin from further damage.