There are five steps that you should take when you or a loved one gets a sunburn.
1. Cool it down. The second you realize you have a sunburn, take action to cool your skin and get out of the sun immediately. You can use a cold compress, but do not apply ice directly to your skin. Alternatively, you can take a short cool shower or bath. Avoid sitting in cold water for too long, as you don’t want to dry your skin out.
2. Moisturize damp skin. After moistening the sunburnt area with cold water, apply moisturizing lotion (not oil or petroleum based lotions, though!) to keep the area from drying out and peeling. You can repeat this process over the next few days.
3. Decrease inflammation. The second you notice your sunburn, take an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen to reduce discomfort. You can also use over-the-counter cortisone cream, which may help to reduce redness and swelling. Aloe vera is another great option. For really painful sunburns, aloe vera with cooling beads and lidocaine can provide instant relief.
4. Hydrate! Burns draw fluid out of the skin, which can lead to dehydration. If you have a sunburn, drink water and sports drinks to replenish fluid and electrolytes.
5. Seek medical care if you notice blistering over a large part of your body, fever, chills, nausea, or confusion.
***Even more important than sunburn treatment is sunburn prevention: Be sure to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before sunlight exposure and reapply every 2 hours while outdoors.
For more information on sunburn care, visit: https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sunburn/five-ways-to-treat-a-sunburn