Sunburns mean much more than just redness and irritation. Getting burned can cause significant skin damage, especially in kids. In fact, people who have five or more sunburns as children have up to an 80 percent increased risk of developing melanoma. Make a concentrated effort to prevent sunburn in the first place by wearing the best sunscreen you can find and staying out of the sun when possible, but if you get burned, here's what to do.
Sunburns don't develop the same for everyone in every situation. Typically, the intensity of the sun, your individual skin type, and the length of time you're out in the sun all factor into how quickly sunburn can start. Remember that you don't have to wait until you have a major burn to start treatment. If you feel tingling on your skin or start to detect redness, it's important to get out of the sun as soon as possible. For kids under one, consider a sunburn to be an emergency, and for kids over one, don't hesitate to call the doctor if severe symptoms develop.
All burns, especially sunburns, pull your body's store of water to the skin's surface and away from your core. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking water, sports drinks, and even juice to replace the fluids you're losing. Be sure to monitor yourself for signals that you're dehydrated, including dizziness and dry mouth. Kids can be particularly affected by dehydration, so pay close attention to younger sunburn sufferers.
Significant sunburns can make you feel overheated or like you're still out in the sun. Taking a shower or bath in cool or lukewarm water is one of the best ways to cool down and relieve the sensation of being overheated. Applying cool compresses to affected areas can also help you cool off.
Applying a moisturizing cream, especially one with aloe vera, is another way to cool off and keep your skin hydrated. Continue to apply moisturizer as the sunburn develops, as this can reduce the effects of the sunburned skin blistering and peeling. For an even greater cooling effect, refrigerate the cream before you apply it. Take care not to apply medicated lotions or creams to a sunburn without a doctor's recommendation.
Relieve the Pain
Sunburns can become painful, especially as symptoms develop several hours after the initial burn. Taking ibuprofen relieves the pain and has the added benefit of reducing redness and swelling. For severe sunburns, it's best to start taking ibuprofen right away and continue to take it periodically for the next two days. Severe sunburns can even cause headaches, fever, or chills. If you experience sunburn-related pain, take sunburn remedies like acetaminophen for relief.
The best way to address a sunburn is always to prevent it from happening at all. Wearing a natural sunscreen is your best bet for protecting your skin from damaging effects of the sun. If you or your kids suffer from a sunburn, despite your best efforts, rest assured that it's possible to get relief.