Ease the Burn

ways to recover from a sunburn

Oops…you didn’t practice safe sunning and now you’re feeling the burn. A major bummer, yes, but there are steps you can take to ease the pain. We did our research and put together a seven-point recovery plan to help you care for your overexposed skin. And, so there won’t be a next time, we are directing you to AZL articles previously published on sunscreen and self-tanning products.


In the initial hours after a burn, your skin needs to breathe. Your body is trying to respond to the trauma by increasing blood flow to the area to help with healing, so wearing tight clothing is an absolute no-no. Go with looser fitting items instead to avoid further aggravating inflammation, which can cause swelling and potential blisters.


The second you realize you have a sunburn it’s important to pop an anti-inflammatory like Advil or Aleve. This is probably one of the best things you can do to decrease the redness and pain of a sunburn. Continue to take the pain pills as needed during the first couple of days.


You may be tempted to pop your blisters, but in all seriousness don’t. By opening them up, you are losing the natural protective barrier your body has formed, and exposing raw skin to potential allergens and infections. Soak a washcloth in a bowl of milk and ice, then let it sit on your sunburn for five minutes. Be sure NOT to rub. Milk will soothe the inflammation, while the cool temperature causes blood vessels to contract, so you’ll be less red and puffy.


When blisters naturally break up on their own, avoid exfoliating, rubbing, picking, or peeling to avoid potential scarring. As gross as it may seem, those flaps of skin act as a natural barrier to protect the injured skin beneath them. Once the inevitable molting starts let the skin fall away on its own and coat yourself head-to-toe in a cream packed with ceramides and lipids. Doctors recommend a gentle, unscented moisturizer that doesn’t contain petroleum, lidocaine, or benzocaine as they can be very irritating to burned skin. It’s also best to avoid any anti-aging products like retinoids, glycolic acids and exfoliators.


Add a few ingredients to the water like lavender oil which will relieve the sting, baking soda which helps lessen the irritation and redness and apple cider vinegar which acts as a topical anti-inflammatory.


Sunburns can lead to dehydration so drink lots of water in the first few hours after the initial burn. Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol which will dehydrate you even further.


If you’ve tried all the above steps and still feel like you’re on fire, consider turning to the strong stuff: an over-the-counter hydrocortisone, like Cerave Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream. It will help reduce inflammation and temporarily ease the pain.


Remember that the summer sun is strong. Even if you’re outside running errands, you need protection. Best to be prepared. Consult our AZL article on sunscreens for product suggestions (CLICK HERE). Or if you plan to avoid the rays entirely, but want to create a sun-kissed look, visit our article on the latest self-tanning options (CLICK HERE).