Unprotected skin can be damaged by UV radiation in as little as 15 minutes, but it could take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect. But what to do if you do get sunburned? It’s probably time to head inside if you notice the skin turning slightly pink, as this may become a more severe burn later. Watch out for fatigue, dizziness, dry mouth and less frequent urination, which can be symptoms of dehydration or other heat-related illnesses.
Sunburned? What do you do next? Do you give up and throw in the towel?
Pay attention to your body. Figuring the inevitable skin discomfort will be unbearable during the workday, here is an 8 step game plan for relief from our Chief Dermatology Resident, Andrew Newman, DO:
- Use moisturizers with aloe vera. When when we were younger everyone’s mother seemed to be obsessed with the use of aloe vera for sunburn, and they were right! Nice job, moms. Aloe vera helps to cool your sunburned skin.
- Stay away from moisturizers with irritating ingredients like lidocaine and benzocaine and products with petroleum (this ingredient may trap the heat in your sunburned skin that your body is working hard to get rid of).
- Take a 10-15 minute bath or shower each day using cool water to cool your sunburn. CAUTION: this step may give you so much relief that you may never want to do anything else for the rest of the day.
- Reach for the ibuprofen. Reducing the inflammation in your burned skin by using over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs (like ibuprofen or naproxen) can lessen your pain, swelling, and redness. You may need these helpful anti-inflammatories for the first 1-4 days post-sunburn.
- Apply OTC cortisone cream several times per day for the areas of the skin that may require a bit more pain relief or itch relief.
- Take Vitamin D. This vitamin is becoming a superhero in the world of medicine and it can further reduce the inflammation in your skin after a sunburn.
- Drink a lot of water! We lose more water through our skin when we are sunburned, so stay hydrated.
- Prevent future sunburns. Importantly, let us take a moment to highlight that a sunburn does not ONLY damage your skin temporarily. The UV radiation that causes sunburn can also cause long-term effects that are detrimental to your skin health, and it will increase your risk of developing skin cancers later in life.
So, it is critical to protect your skin from the sun. It is not fun to be sunburned, and it is not healthy either! Make sure to wear your SPF 30-50 and seek shade throughout the day. Taking good care of your skin will benefit your entire body, and will keep you looking younger as the years go on.
For questions about your sunburn or to learn how to better protect your skin from the sun, book an appointment with one of our dermatologists today!