While many like to have fun in the sun during the summer, prepping and treating your skin can become an afterthought, leaving painful sunburns to follow. A sunburn is the reddening, inflammation, and, in severe cases, blistering and peeling of the skin caused by overexposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun or sunlamps.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that offers the following:
- Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays)
- SPF 30 or higher
A sunscreen that offers all three recommendations helps to protect your skin from sunburn, as well as other skin conditions such as early aging and skin cancer. However, sunscreen alone cannot fully protect you. In addition to wearing sunscreen, the American Academy of Dermatology also recommends taking the following steps to protect your skin from sun radiation:
- Seek shade when appropriate. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so if your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Dress to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a lightweight long-sleeve shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, when possible.
- Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
- Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
- Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look tan, you may wish to use a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
Your skin can burn if it gets too much sun without proper protection from sunscreen and clothes. To help heal and soothe stinging skin, it is important to begin treating sunburn as soon as you notice it. The first thing you should do is get out of the sun—and preferably indoors. Dermatologists’ recommend doing the following to treat a sunburn:
- Take frequent cool baths or showers to help relieve the pain. As soon as you get out of the bathtub or shower, gently pat yourself dry, but leave a little water on your skin. Then, apply a moisturizer to help trap the water in your skin. This can help ease the dryness.
- Use a moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy to help soothe sunburned skin. If a particular area feels especially uncomfortable, you may want to apply a hydrocortisone cream that you can buy without a prescription. Do not treat sunburn with “-caine” products (such as benzocaine), as these may irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.
- Aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce any swelling, redness, and discomfort.
- Drink extra water. A sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body. Drinking extra water when you are sunburned helps prevent dehydration.
If your skin blisters, allow the blisters to heal. Blistering skin means you have a second-degree sunburn. You should not pop the blisters, as blisters form to help your skin heal and protect you from infection. To take extra care to protect sunburned skin while it heals, wear clothing that covers your skin when outdoors. Tightly woven fabrics work best. When you hold the fabric up to a bright light, you shouldn’t see any light coming through.
Although it may seem like a temporary condition, sunburn—a result of skin receiving too much exposure from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays—can cause long-lasting damage to the skin. This damage increases a person’s risk of getting skin cancer, making it critical to protect the skin from the sun.
If you have additional questions about sunburns or have a concern regarding your skin condition, fill out our web form or contact our team today! Unsure if your insurance will cover your visit? Check out our insurance coverage page for a list of accepted insurance companies so you know beforehand if you’re covered.