tips to heal sunburnSummertime means fun in the sun, and it also means an increased potential for sunburn. If your skin is left unprotected in the sun, then it might take only a few minutes to burn. You should always take the proper precautions before doing any outdoor activity in order to protect your skin from burning. But preventing sunburn can be difficult and we all need a plan for healing sunburn just in case it should occur this summer.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) provides tips from dermatologists to heal sunburn quickly on their website. It is best to have a plan in place for healing sunburn before the summer begins so that you will be ready when the inevitable happens. 

If you have been out in the sun too long without sunscreen, then more than likely you will get a sunburn. Here are simple tips on how to heal a sunburn. 

1. Treat Sunburn Immediately

It is important to treat sunburn as soon as you notice it. This might even be while you are still outside. The first step in healing a sunburn is getting out of the sun immediately. Get indoors to prevent further burning and damage to your skin. 

Then, take a cool shower or bath to relieve the burning. The AAD recommends that once you get out of the shower or bath, pat yourself dry, but leave a little water on your skin. Then apply a moisturizer, preferably one that contains aloe vera, in order to trap the moisture in your skin. If your burn continues to hurt or is uncomfortable, you may want to apply hydrocortisone cream that you can buy without a prescription.

Continue to take cool baths or showers until the sunburn is no longer hot or uncomfortable.  

2. Take a Pain-Reliever

Take an aspirin or ibuprofen to help relieve the pain and reduce the swelling or redness of a sunburn.

3. Drink Extra Water

Sunburn draws fluid to the skin surface and away from the rest of the body. It is essential to prevent dehydration by drinking extra water after a sunburn. The additional hydration will also aid in the sunburn healing process.

4. Allow Blisters to Heal

Mild sunburns typically will not blister, but blistering is normal for severe sunburns. If blisters form on your sunburn, then it is imperative that you leave them alone and allow them to heal on their own. Blisters help sunburns heal and prevent infection, so let them do their job. 

You can continue to take cool baths or showers to help blisters heal. You can also apply a cold compress to the blistered areas, but do so gently to prevent breaking the blisters. 

5. Leave Peeling Skin Alone

As your skin heals from a sunburn, it might peel or flake. It is important to treat your peeling skin gently with aloe vera lotion. Leave the skin alone to heal on its own and do not peel the skin yourself. 

6. Wear Protective Clothing

It is important to protect sunburned skin from further damage and irritation while it heals. Wear protective clothing over the sunburn when you go outside. Tightly-woven fabrics with an SPF rating work best to protect sunburned skin from further damage. 

When to See a Doctor 

Some sunburns are severe enough to warrant medical attention. Seek medical attention for sunburns if: 

  • Blisters cover a large area
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Infection
  • Fainting or weakness

How long does a sunburn take to heal? 

The more severe the sunburn, the longer it will take to heal. A mild to moderate sunburn will take a few days to heal and a more severe sunburn can take weeks to heal. 

Don’t let a sunburn ruin your summer. Do your best to protect your skin in the sun with the proper clothing and sunscreen. But if you miss a spot, follow the above tips to heal a sunburn quickly so that you can get back outdoors as soon as possible.