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How to Ease the Pain of Sunburn

Sunburned? You don't need me or anyone else reminding you that you should have worn sunscreen - your screaming red skin is reminder enough! So what can you do to ease the pain and speed up the healing? Here are some tips:

  • Take a cool shower and gently lather up with a moisturizing soap.
  • As soon as you get out of the shower, while your skin is still damp, rub aloe all over your sunburn. The store-bought gel works well (I keep mine in the fridge), but if you have an aloe plant, that'll work better. Just break off a stalk, peel one side of the skin off and rub it all over the affected area. You can save the leftover stalk wrapped in a plastic baggie in the fridge. If you don't have aloe, rub regular lotion all over your skin.

There's more tips so

  • If the area is really hot and burning, apply cool, wet washcloth compresses to your burn.
  • Take an aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Drink plenty of water to re-hydrate yourself.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes so you don't irritate your skin.
  • If your skin blisters, avoid popping the bubbles because it can cause infection. Continue to moisturize your skin several times a day with aloe or lotion.
  • Stay out of the sun until your skin heals.

Fit's Tips: Since the next time you go out in the sun, you won't forget your sunscreen, just remember to reapply it every 2 hours so you can be fully protected. Remember to check the expiration date if you still have last year's sunscreen.

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Join The Conversation
Charlie Charlie 10 years
when buying aloe vera at the store, make sure you don't buy any that has alcohol in it. sometimes they'll put alcohol in with the aloe to help it evaporate faster, but it stings really badly when you're already burned.
pinupsweetheart pinupsweetheart 10 years
I love to keep my aloe in the fridge before putting it on. I do this with my lotion too! It feels soooo good!
koolkat1021 koolkat1021 10 years
As a red headed, blue-eyed, pale person? Sunburns are a staple of my summer. Maybe I can pass on some tips... 1. Cover up: Freckles are cute, but they result from over exposure...and just throwing on a t-shirt will result in having a redneck-style freckle tan. If you like this look, go 'head with your bad self! But, I recommend SPF clothing that covers you down to your wrists and ankles. The material is light and breatheable enough that you'll really feel just as cool or cooler than wearing a tank top and shorts. Layer a light, gauzy long sleeve over a tiny tank...every little bit helps. Also, cough up the dough for the rental umbrella at the beach...or buy your own...think of it as an investment in your future! ;-) 2. Slather on the sunscreen: The best defense is a good offense, right? SPF 30 just does NOT cut it for I have to go for the heavy hitters. When going to the beach, I use the Hawaiian Tropic Ozone SPF 70+ and find I'm fine ALL day. Your friends will make jokes, but who cares because it means you won't have to go home early or burnt! The HT one is great and is high enough/waterproof so if I forget to reapply, I usually find I'm still okay. I am also becoming a big fan of the Neutrogena Helioplex line and saw that they just came out with SPF 70. It smells pretty good and doesn't leave your skin greasy...AT ALL. When they say dry touch, they mean it! Oh and don't forget the part in your hair...I usually do! 3. Fixing the burn: As soon as you are out of the sun, take some pain reliever and drink plenty of water. Then, start applying the aftersun care. I HIGHLY recommend Banana Boat's Sooth-A-Caine Aloe Vera spray. It's got lidocaine and aloe vera. I've tried everything from lotions to other lidocaine products to tea bags to straight aloe vera...and this is the ONLY product I've found that works. I found it by accident after a day at the beach. I was pretty burned, wandered into a local shop and saw the only product they had's bright blue, you can't miss it. After using it as directed, my boyfriend at the time was amazed when HE blistered and I did not--and I was the one who was badly burned!! If the sunburn is REALLY bad, I'll alternate between that and regular aloe vera gel I keep in the fridge as there is a recommendation limiting how many times you can reapply the Banana Boat spray per day.
ALSW ALSW 10 years
LIDOCAINE! I've learned to swear by that stuff. Helps SOOOO much, along with aloe and cold baths and all that usual stuff. :)
CestLaVie CestLaVie 10 years
Just got a burn yesterday from being on a boat for a good 4 hours mid-day... radiating a little heat from my lobster red skin now... I did the cool shower + aloe + aftersun lotion + more aloe.
Megamega2k Megamega2k 10 years
I'm moving to Florida very soon, so thanks for the tips. Also, the product..I'll have to check that out.
rubialala rubialala 10 years
I have heard that putting a washcloth soaked in ice cold milk helps.
TruleyQueen TruleyQueen 10 years
An extra tip that I learned from nurse that works in the burn unit of a hospital: don't use regular lotion on your sunburn. She said it traps the heat and defeats the purpose of a cold shower. She recommends aloe, advil, and cold showers until better. I do this and my sunburn is usually gone within a day or two.
Sweet-Tea Sweet-Tea 10 years
I know that this may sound bizzarre, but vinegar works really well. Just soak a soft washcloth with white vinegar and pat it gently onto the affected areas. Yes, smelling like a salad is a temporary side effect--but it cools and for me, it seems to inhibit peeling.
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