SPOKANE, Wash. – We all know the drill – apply sunscreen and reapply frequently.
But even when we do our best to avoid a sunburn, it often still happens.
Sometimes we get caught off-guard by an exceptionally sunny day. We cannot keep up with the sunscreen and sometimes we forget to pack the sunscreen all together.
If you end up catching a few too many rays and your skin turns red and starts to peel – despite your best intentions – here's what you can do:
Find Shade. A sunburn might be a sign of too much time outside, which can put anyone at risk of heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. Protect sunburned skin by dressing in lightweight, tightly woven clothing that blocks the sun.
Stay hydrated. Burned and blistered skin does not keep fluid inside the body well. Anyone with a burn needs to drink more than usual.
Don't discount the obvious. Ice packs and cool showers can help soothe sunburns dramatically. A cool, damp towel or cloth throughout the day can help. This may be your best bet on the way home from the beach.
Leave blisters be. Do not pop them. They are sign of a second-degree burn which is more serious.
Consider using an anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen because it can help with pain and swelling. Call your doctor if you're not sure of the dosage.
Use products that contain aloe vera. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, studies have shown that gel made from the leaves of the cactus-like aloe plant can help heal minor burns.
If you are feeling the heat and you are out of aloe vera, some dermatologists suggest turning to dairy. Open up the fridge and pull out that carton of plain-non-fat yogurt for starters apply it to your face like a mask and, and leave it on until it's not cool anymore.
If you do not have any yogurt, try a chilled milk compress. Doctors are divided when it comes to this remedy but some say the lactic acid in cow’s milk can help exfoliate damaged skin.
Doctors also suggest hydrocortisone cream to soothe skin. Do not use anything that contains petroleum, as it can trap heat inside the skin. Also refrain from products with benzocaine or lidocaine because they are made to relieve pain from cuts and scratches and can often irritate sunburns.
Call your health care provider right away if you are cooled off but still feeling nauseous, dizzy or sleepy.
There is no way to reverse skin damage once it is done and the skin damage from sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer.