Even when we think we're being careful, sometimes we wind up with a painful sunburn. So what are the best sunburn remedies? Dermatologist and author Dr. Doris Day shares her sunburn treatment tips, including some home remedies for quick sunburn relief.
CYNTHIA: Hi, I’m Cynthia Guaba for howdini.com. So you went and you got a sunburn, even after promising yourself that you were going to be careful this time. What can you do to minimize the pain and the damage? Dermatologist and author Dr. Doris Day is here to help. Dr. Day, thank you for being with us.
DORIS: Thank you.
CYNTHIA: What can you do if you get a sunburn to prevent from peeling?
DORIS: Well, it’s really important to take an aspirin or ibuprofen right away to minimize that redness, that inflammation and the pain that goes with a sunburn. Also, get yourself in some place where the air, the air temperature is cooler, so you can allow the heat to release out of your skin.
CYNTHIA: And I see that you have some remedies here. What can they do to help?
DORIS: Well the next thing you’re going to do is try to minimize the pain and to add water back into the skin. So using products like Solarcaine, that have ingredients that will cool of the skin and actually offer some numbing can help as well. Hydrocortisone cream can be very effective in minimizing the redness and helping cool the skin off a little bit faster. Aloe vera gel is also very soothing and very helpful in healing after a sunburn. If you have an aloe vera plant, you can just break off a piece and rub it right over the areas that are burnt, and that helps as well.
CYNTHIA: Is aloe vera from the plant better than, let’s say, from a gel?
DORIS: Well, I do like things from their natural sources when they’re available. So if you happen to have an aloe vera plant available, then it's very nice to be able to break it and apply it directly. It's also a nice, thick, gooey paste. But if you don’t have the plant available, the aloe vera gel is a very close second. And this is a hundred percent aloe vera gel so it's really pretty much pure aloe vera. So they’re both good, I prefer the natural plant but the gel is also quite good.
CYNTHIA: And what are some of the ingredients you should be looking for, let’s say in some lotions and creams to treat a sunburn?
DORIS: You look for hydrocortisone because that’s our gold standard for anti-inflammatory. You look for ingredients like pramosone or things that or mentholated that will help cool and soothe and even add some anesthetic or numbing elements so this burn is not so painful. You could also make a nice little paste for the bath. Take a cool or a lukewarm bath with ingredients like oatmeal, and adding some whole milk in, and even some honey. And you can soak in that for ten to fifteen minutes. And that will do several things. One is it will cool off all your skin, and it is very soothing. But also it adds water back into the skin. And one of the problems with a sunburn is that the sun dries and pulls the water out of your skin, leaving it very dry, and that’s part of the problem with peeling later. So if you can add water back in early, you might, you just might peel a little bit less later.
CYNTHIA: And sometimes people get a fever with a sunburn. Is that worrisome?
DORIS: That can be very worrisome. If you have fevers, chills, if you feel dizzy, that is a sign of potential sun poisoning and that’s a reason to call your doctor or go to the emergency room right away.
CYNTHIA: Following a sunburn, what should you do? How should you treat it?
DORIS: Well it's very important over the next several days to make sure you moisturize your skin as much as possible to keep and hold water into your skin. If you take a hot bath or shower you’re actually going to increase the burn. So limit your shower to lukewarm water, and right after the bath or shower use a cream or even an ointment to add water, to lock that water in and even add more water back to your skin to try to help your skin heal more quickly.
CYNTHIA: And stay away from the sun, right?
DORIS: And use sun protection. Put it on before you go out and reapply it regularly. Wear sunglasses, try to wear a hat, stay in the shade when you can. It's just sunsmart behavior to help prevent the next burn from happening, because that damage is cumulative.
CYNTHIA: Dr. Day, thank you for those tips. I’m Cynthia Guaba for howdini.com
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