1. Once you realize you’re turning pink and your skin is feeling warm
Get covered! Don’t let a minor burn turn into a major one! Go inside if possible. If you have to stay outdoors, slather on more sunscreen or, better yet, put on a light t-shirt and a hat.
2. Take steps to prevent and treat pain
If you’re concerned about the discomfort the sunburn may bring, taking over-the-counter painkillers containing acetaminophen or ibuprofen at the first sign of sunburn can help. Other treatments include cold compresses, a cool bath, or applying a cooling gel or lotion containing aloe vera to relieve some of the heat. A hydrocortisone cream may also be applied for a short amount of time if discomfort persists.
3. Keep treating the burn as it heals
As soon as initial treatment of the burn has been completed, it is important to start rehydrating your body. Burns pull moisture from your skin and you will continue to need extra fluids until it heals. Children are particularly vulnerable to dehydration and should be encouraged to drink more. While a burn heals, wear loose cotton clothing to keep cool air moving over the area and to protect it from further damage if you need to spend time outside. Keeping the burn from further sun exposure until it has had time to heal is always a good idea.
If you’re not interested in treating your sunburn with medications, there are several natural sunburn remedies that may help ease your pain. These remedies are not all proven, but if your sunburn has gotten the best of you, it really can’t hurt to try!
- Soak tea bags (black tea) in cool water and apply them to the burn – black tea contains tannic acid, which can be a pain reliever. You may also try brewing the tea, allowing it to cool, then using rags soaked in it for cold compresses.
- Use a rag soaked in cool cow’s milk for a cold compress – milk has proteins that may reduce inflammation.
- Apply honey, yogurt, or cool prepared oatmeal to the area – all three are said to have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Add a cup of vinegar to your cool bath – vinegar is said to help restore pH balance in the skin, which encourages healing.
- Apply vitamin E oil or lotion – vitamin E is also said to reduce inflammation
Note: These are all suggested treatments for minor sunburn caused by low levels of overexposure to sunlight. Any sunburn that blisters, appears white, feels numb, or is accompanied by chills and fever requires special attention and you should consult a physician. Additionally, any child under the age of one who gets sunburn may also need a physician’s care. Please call your family doctor for questions and further treatment!
Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at www.utterlyinexperienced.blogspot.com, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.
Featured image courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.