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Ways to Treat Sunburn and Reduce Redness at Home

Written by on January 23, 2024

How to get rid of sunburn on your face and body fast

sunburn beauty portrait

1. Take a cool bath or shower.
Keep the temp low and then lather on moisturizer as soon as you get out, the AAD advises. The cool H20 may help ease the pain and reduce the inflammation caused by sunburn, and the lotion will help trap moisture and make your skin feel and look less dry. The SCF suggests avoiding harsh soap, which can further irritate the skin.
2. Apply aloe.
There’s a reason why it’s the go-to after-sun product. Pure aloe vera gel — whether out of a bottle or straight from the plant — contains cooling and soothing properties. It can also potentially promote wound healing, according to the Mayo Clinic. In test tube studies, the aloe plant has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Use an ice pack or compress.
Wrap ice in a cloth before applying it directly to your skin, or soak a washcloth in cold water or milk and place that on the burn. The vitamins and antioxidants in milk can help your skin heal, says dermatologist Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D., medical director of Mudgil Dermatology in Manhattan and Hicksville, New York.
4. Drink lots of water.
A sunburn draws fluid to the skin and away from the rest of the body, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Rehydrate by downing plenty of H20, or a low-sugar drink that has electrolytes. (Don’t try to hydrate by swigging margaritas, though; alcohol can make the problem worse.)
5. Don’t pop any blisters.
Severe and widespread blisters require a doctor’s attention, but if you get a few, leave ’em be. Opening them up makes them vulnerable to infection, the AAD says. If blisters pop naturally, the Mayo Clinic advises that you clean the open wound with mild soap and water and cover it with antibiotic ointment and a bandage.
6. Protect against further damage.
If you need to go outside again, wear clothing that covers your skin and stay in the shade. Don’t forget to apply lots of sunscreen as well — at least a shot glass-full for the body, a nickel-size dollop for the face, says GH Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D. Adds Dr. Gohara, “It’s important to use SPF on the burn so as to not stoke the fire with additional damage!”
The pharmacy aisles can also help with the healing process if you reach for the right stuff:
  • Take aspirin or ibuprofen: An OTC pain reliever like Advil can help reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Rub on a hydrocortisone cream: A mild topical steroid like Cortizone-10 may speed up healing, according to the Mayo Clinic.
8. Skip heat-trapping products.
There are things you may be tempted to use on your skin that can make things worse because they trap the heat in. Not good. For this reason, the SCF says to avoid using oil-based lotions or petroleum products.
9. Also skip topical anesthetics.
Products like benzocaine — in fact, any products that end in “-caine” — are best avoided right now, because they can further irritate the skin.
10. Switch up your skincare regimen.
It’s best to skip some of your usual skincare steps for now. Exfoliators and scrubs will just add to the pain and could further damage your skin; the same with toners. If you’re using an acne medication, you probably want to talk to your doctor about whether it’s a good idea to take a little break.
11. Keep moisturizing.
The SCF suggests that you keep rubbing lotion on over the sunburned area over the next few days, to help keep the burned or peeling area moist.
12. Consider an oatmeal bath.
The Cleveland Clinic advises easing the discomfort of sunburn by adding colloidal oatmeal to your bath water; it’s known to ease inflammation. Just take a break, lie back and say “ah.”
13. Or add baking soda to that bath.
The Cleveland Clinic also says a bath with baking soda can help with the ouch. It also has antibacterial properties, and in research was shown to reduce itchiness. Try a lukewarm bath with a half cup or so of baking soda.

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