It happens so easily. You spend an hour or two on the beach, happily reading a book with your toes in the sand. You’re feeling fine – after all, you rubbed on some sunscreen before stepping outside, and the sun really wasn’t that strong today, right? It’s only after you’re back inside and ready to shower off the sand that you notice it – the redness and the tight-skin feeling that can mean only one thing: sunburn.
Of course, the best thing to do is to reapply sunscreen frequently while on the beach and to limit your sun exposure in general, but everyone makes the mistake of getting burned on occasion. Sunburns are painful and can really put a damper on the rest of your vacation. Luckily, there are a few easy ways to soothe the pain and help speed up the healing process.
The best thing to do is to take an aspirin or ibuprofen (according to label instructions) with plenty of water as soon as you realize you’re burned. The aspirin will help reduce inflammation associated with the burn, and the water will help to replenish any fluids that you lost while you were out in the hot sun. If you have to shower, do so in lukewarm water; cold water is not advised because it “closes” the pores, and some experts believe that it can trap in the heat and cause more discomfort.
The Fayetteville Observer published an article last week on home remedies for various summer woes. Their advice for a sunburn was to add a cup of crushed oatmeal to a bath, soaking in it to reduce swelling. The story went on to say that the same results could be achieved with two cups of apple cider vinegar or one cup of baking soda. Depending on what you have on hand, any of these should work just fine; however, you might want to consider skipping the vinegar if you have plans to be around people!
As for what you should apply post-shower/bath, nothing beats good old aloe vera. The gel has a cooling feeling that will make you feel more comfortable and will also keep the skin hydrated, reducing the tight feeling that sunburned skin tends to have. Some brands, like Hawaiian Tropic, produce aloe vera products with Lidocaine, which offers immediate pain relief.
These treatments work well for mild to moderate sunburns. For more severe cases, consult a doctor before beginning any treatment. This would include: large sunburned areas with blisters, or sunburn accompanied by a high fever or severe pain.
Be careful out there, and enjoy the rest of your summer!