Damage Control: What to Do at the First Sign of Sunburn

Damage Control: What to Do at the First Sign of Sunburn

Sunburns happen. Although it may be hard to believe in these days of warnings, sunscreens, and the inclusion of SPF protection in everything from makeup products to clothing, some people still get sunburns. If you need proof, you need only to look at epic fail blogs displaying pictures sunbathers whose spray-on sunscreen missed a few spots, or people whose chests or heads still bear the embarrassing images and logos of what they were wearing when the sun got them. Yes, sunburns happen, and when they do, you should know how to handle them. Here are ways to keep yourself off of failed sunburn social media.

Causes of Sunburn
When asked what causes sunburn, most of us would probably say staying out in the sun for too long, and we wouldn’t be wrong. However, there are more scientific explanations. The sun gives off three types of light, UVA, UVB, and UVC. Since UVC doesn’t ready the earth’s surface, it is not of too much concern to us. Rather, it is the UVA and UVB rays that are rather more problematic.

While sunburn is the most visible sign of sun damage, some detrimental effects of the sun are less obvious. Ultraviolet rays can age your skin, altering your DNA under the surface and ultimately leading to skin cancers and melanoma.

woman applying cold compress

Sunburn Treatment
Sunburn treatment is targeted to do two things, relieve inflammation and redness, and ease pain. Here are a few ways of treating sunburn at home:

  • Compresses - One of the simplest remedies for sunburn is the application of a cold compress to the skin or a cool bath.
  • Creams or Gel - Creams and gels containing ingredients such as menthol, camphor, and aloe will help take the sting out of a burn. You can make the cooling application even more pleasurable by storing the cream in the refrigerator.
  • NSAIDs - Ibuprofen or naproxen are both examples of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that can relieve pain and swelling.
  • Avoid the Sun - While your sunburn is healing, avoid the sun. It can worsen preexisting sunburns and surely won’t help the healing process.

Woman smiling

Preventing Sunburn
Of course, the best way to prevent sunburn fail is by preventing sunburn. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Pay Attention to the Time - The sun’s rays are strongest between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. If you find yourself outdoors during this time, try to seek cover.
  • Wear the Right Clothes - You know the importance of dressing for the occasion, and dressing for a day in the sun is no different. Your outdoor look should consist of a wide brimmed hat, a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and UV blocking sunglasses.
  • Use Sunscreen - To avoid sun damage, invest in a broad spectrum sunscreen with and SPF of at least 30. Apply at least one ounce to any and all exposed skin. For maximum sun protection, sunscreen should be applied half an hour before venturing outside and reapplied ever two hours, or more after swimming of perspiring. Overcast weather is no excuse for leaving off the sunscreen. UV rays penetrate clouds.

Did you ever find yourself a candidate for the failed sunburn blog? If so, let us know how you handled it. We love to get your comments and suggestions.

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