5 Tips for Treating Sunburn

If there’s one thing that ocean-lovers should know, it’s how to treat sunburn. Like it or not, it happens to the best of us, so it’s good to know how to effectively soothe sunburn when it eventually happens. Whether you live in a coastal town or high in the mountains, the sun shines brightly and can harm your skin with solar radiation if you don’t take proactive measures. 

Being prepared includes having a plan to limit your skin’s exposure. That can mean covering up with a hat or cozy t-shirt when you’re not in the water, or applying copious amounts of sunscreen to stymie the sun’s harsh rays. And if you know you’ll be out in the open, exposed (like at the beach), bring an umbrella to keep the sun out of your face and off your skin.   

But what if it’s too late? If you’ve already been burned, you’re likely looking past prevention and now turning to remedies for soothing the painful skin condition. Some common tricks are well known, like applying Aloe Vera, but there are also some other unconventional remedies for treating sunburn.  

How to Treat Sunburn

So, the deed is done and your skin is hot, red—and irritated. But don’t fret! Below we’ve listed five steps you can take to soothe and treat your sunburn so you can be out having fun-in-the-sun again in no time!  

1.) Treat Sunburn: Cool Your Skin

The first step in any journey to soothing a sunburn is to cool the inflamed area. Although the heat feels ingrained in the skin, a cold towel compress can go a long way toward relieving the worst of the burning. 

For a whole-body experience, prep a cool bath with ½ a cup of baking soda and let the water moisturize your damaged epidermis for roughly 15-20 minutes. Avoid scrubbing during and after your bath, as this can further damage your burnt skin. 

2.) Treat Sunburn: Apply Lotion or Cream 

After you’ve soothed your skin and lowered the perceived temperature, now it’s time to apply copious amounts of Aloe Vera. Remember to avoid petroleum-based lotions as they will lock in the heat and further exacerbate the pain and irritation of the sunburn.

If you have it, also consider using low-strength hydrocortisone cream to stimulate recovery. If blisters form and open, apply antibiotic cream to avoid infection. 

3.) Take an anti-inflammatory

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can go a long way toward relieving pain and reducing inflammation. If you’re treating the sunburn of a child, opt for acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as giving aspirin to kids under 16 is against medical recommendations. 

4.) Peel & Heal

Sometimes, the best remedy is time. And that’s certainly the case with treating sunburns. A normal sunburn can take anywhere between a few days to a few weeks to fully heal, but the residual pain and discomfort should abate relatively quickly. 

Once your burn has begun to peel, resist the urge to rub and pick as it can move the skin’s regenerative process in the wrong direction and extend recovery times. Continue to apply Aloe Vera and hydrocortisone creams as needed.

5.) Wear Sunscreen or ExoWear 

It might seem obvious, but one of the best ways to treat your sunburn is to stay out of the sun during the healing process. Further exposure can worsen outcomes and turn a benign burn into a second-degree sufferfest, so take care of yourself! 

Once you’re healed up, opt for a high-SPF sunscreen or, better yet, don a protective piece of clothing (like a shirt) or go all in on an amphibious multisport garment, like ExoWear. Aside from keeping your skin covered, ExoWear helps you stay warm and comfortable in a variety of water temps so you can play all day—free of discomfort and, hopefully, another sunburn.

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