One of the most important steps to healing irritated, sunburned, and itchy skin is to protect and soothe it with a moisturizer. A good moisturizer "brings down inflammation and helps skin repair," stated Gary Goldenberg, MD, a dermatologist to the Insider. When choosing a moisturizer or lotion, make sure to refrain from fragranced products because they can further irritate the skin.
In addition, avoid thick creams or balms, such as products that contain petroleum jelly or mineral oil, because they trap the heat in the skin and may clog the pores. Apply an unscented lightweight lotion, aloe vera gel, or a specialized sunburn cream with hydrocortisone on clean skin right after showering. Reapply several times a day, if needed.
Using an apple cider vinegar solution on a sunburn is a common natural remedy, but dermatologists say that it could do more harm than good. Vinegar, diluted or not, contains a high concentration of acetic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, and malic acid. Using it on a sunburn will seriously sting and compromise the already damaged skin even further.
According to Carol Cheng, a dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, applying vinegar to a sunburn "may lead to a serious chemical burn." Needless to say, doing so can cause severe pain, will delay the healing process, and may leave scarring.
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Colloidal oatmeal baths are an excellent remedy for any dry or inflammatory skin condition. Sunburns are no exception. The soothing and anti-inflammatory properties of oatmeal can reduce pain, burning, and swelling caused by a sunburn.
Colloidal oatmeal, or Avena sativa, is a powder made from finely ground and boiled oats. Preparing a colloidal oatmeal bath is easy: simply pour an appropriate amount of the colloidal oatmeal in lukewarm water and soak for 10-15 minutes in the bath, making sure that all the affected areas are submerged in water. You can also make your own oatmeal powder by grinding up 1 cup of oats in a spice grinder until completely fine and smooth.
A cold compress, a cool shower, or a lukewarm bath can feel wonderful when your entire body is aching, and all of these are certainly beneficial. However, applying ice directly onto the burn may compromise your skin, cause pain, and extend the healing time. So, wrap a cold pad or a bag in a cloth or towel and then apply it to the sunburn instead.
A sunburn that peels is most likely accompanied by a lot of pain and a burning sensation on the skin, both of which are a sign that your skin is inflamed. In these cases, it’s legitimate to take any kind of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID), such as ibuprofen or aspirin for a day or two. The medication will relieve the pain and soothe the skin.
Anti-inflammatory creams work well, too, just make sure to avoid petroleum and oil-based creams, just like a moisturizer.
Let your skin breathe and avoid tight clothes if your skin is sunburned. According to Shereen Idriss, a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York, “Your body is trying to respond to the trauma by increasing blood flow to the area to help with healing. This results in redness, warmth, and inflammation to the area.” Tight clothing can worsen the immune response and increases swelling and blisters.
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Second-degree sunburns often require professional care. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you experience any of the following symptoms, seek professional help:
-You have large blisters, or blisters on the face, hands, or genitals.
-The blisters are painful or filled with pus.
-Your experience severe swelling.
-Your symptoms don’t improve over a few days.
In some cases, you may even need to go to the hospital. These are the signs that a sunburn requires urgent medical care:
-High fever - 39°C (103°F) and higher.
Do not ignore any of these symptoms and seek appropriate professional help as soon as possible.
Similar to not peeling your skin after a sunburn, you should never pop sunburn blisters. If you have developed blisters as a result of sunburn, wear loose clothing to avoid applying pressure onto the blisters, too. The fluid in the blister actually serves a very important role - it is protecting the wound underneath the blister and helps the skin heal itself sooner.