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Treating a Sunburn
The best approach to sunburn is avoidance. Always apply sunscreen liberally and often, and stay out of the sun in the middle of the day. But if you slip up and end up with a sunburn, follow these suggestions from the Skin Cancer Foundation to help ease the pain and possibly mitigate the damage.
Don’t wait. Sunburn can take hours to fully develop, but you should take action as soon as you see any redness or feel any pain or tightness. Start by getting out of the sun immediately. Then don’t wait for additional symptoms before you take the next steps in treatment.
Add moisture. Start with a cool shower, then pat dry and put on a good moisturizing cream or lotion. Apply liberally and often – like you should have applied your sunscreen. The lotion can help you avoid that tightness you feel from a sunburn, and it also can minimize peeling later on. Some people believe that a lotion containing Vitamin C or E works best, although there is no definitive proof that that is true.
Drink plenty of water. Sunburn is an actual burn and, like all burns, it causes your body to pull fluids to the site of the injury. As a result, you need to hydrate. Drink plenty of water and other liquids for a few days. If you experience signs of deyhdration, such as dry mouth, drink more.
Take ibuprofen. As soon as you see signs of sunburn, begin taking ibuprofen; continue taking it for at least 48 hours. It can help reduce the pain and swelling from the sunburn, and it also might help to reduce long-term skin damage.
Keep an eye on things. Though most sunburns do not require medical attention, be aware that sunburn can be serious. If you are sunburned over more than 20 percent of your body, you should see a doctor. Also see a doctor if symptoms such as fever or chills develop, or if you have any other symptoms that concern you.
If your child is sunburned, follow the same basic steps. For example, you can give your child children’s ibuprofen. You or your child also might find some relief by applying cold compresses to the burn.
And finally, if you do get a sunburn, use it as an incentive to avoid sunburn in the future. You will save yourself some pain, and you also could save your life because sunburn is a known cause of skin cancer.