We all know the deal: slip, slop, slap, seek, slide. But despite our best intentions, sometimes we still get caught up in the moment and forget to re-apply sunscreen. It takes less than 11 minutes for the skin to burn; so linger too long over an alfresco latte or get caught up in the excitement of an outdoor tennis match, and you might be heading home red and raw.
The best cure for sunburn is prevention, and there’s no turning back the clock when the damage is done. But the last thing you want when you’re suffering from the pain of sunburn is a lecture on the dangers of sun exposure, so we’re not going to give you that. What we are going to give you are some tips to cope with the pain and of sunburnt skin, so you can recover and get back to doing the things you love…. in the shade.
If you’re sunburnt, chances are you are also dehydrated. Avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water.
Taking a long cold shower or bath, or pressing a cold compress to your skin, will help take some of the heat out of your skin and temporarily relieve some of the discomfort of the burn. Avoid using soap as this may irritate your skin.
Make friends with aloe vera
Supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies all stock a wide range of aloe vera ointments alongside sunscreen, proving that we’ve all still got a lot to learn when it comes to sun protection. Store it in the fridge for cool relief when you apply.
Try old fashioned remedies
Although there’s no science to support its effectiveness, Grandma’s white vinegar remedy is still a popular cure for the pain of sunburn, plus it doesn’t carry the hefty price tag of store bought aloe vera treatments. Where possible, spray-on treatments are better to avoid irritation used by rubbing products into the skin. Mix one part white vinegar to one part water into a spray bottle and spray liberally.
Avoid picking at your skin
As tempting as it is to pick at your peeling skin or pop a blister, don’t. You’re more likely to tear the skin and increase your risk of infection. When the old skin flakes off to reveal the new skin underneath, apply an antiseptic cream to ward off nasty bugs.
Seek medical attention if necessary
You should seek medical attention immediately if you have any of the following symptoms with your sunburn:
- Severe sunburn with extensive blistering and pain
- Sunburn over a large area of skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or altered states of consciousness.
A note on exercise and sunburn
If you’re suffering from severe sunburn, it’s best to skip the intense workout for a couple of days until your skin settles down. Raising your body temperate while your skin is still hot could lead to overheating, and sweat can sting and itch sunburn skin. So until you’re able to function pain-free again, swap the workout for a walk in the shade.