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17 ways to get rid of sunburn as quickly as possible
She's just a girl and she burns.
Good news: even though you may look like a lobster (unborked) for a few days, there are actually a ton of tried and true ways to make your sunburn feel better and go away faster. Like that whole milk thing I mentioned earlier? It's actually not the worst idea in the world - more on that later. How To Make Your Sunburn GTFO, STAT.
1. Take a cool shower.
Um, the easiest remedy ever. Just hop in a cool shower (or bathtub) for instant relief. The cold water feels amazing and makes your skin appear less red by reducing inflammation. But whatever you do, don't rub your burn with a towel when you get out. This will disrupt your skin barrier even more, which you definitely don't want at the moment, explains dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara, Associate Clinical Professor at the Yale School of Medicine. Instead, use the towel to gently pat yourself dry.
2. Make a cloth.
You've probably heard of treating a sunburn with a cold compress - but this hack takes it to a whole new level. Wet a washcloth, put it in the freezer for a couple of hours and boom, you have what Dr. Gohara is called acloth(receives this trademark, brb). Place it over your skin to relieve burning sensation and soothe redness. If you're dealing with a seriously uncomfortable or large burn, make a couple of wipes at a time so you always have one on hand, recommends Dr. Gohara.
3. Chill your aloe.
Oookay, so aloe isn't exactly the most groundbreaking sunburn remedy. But according to Dr. Gohara is very popular for a reason. Aloe is anti-inflammatory, which means that it soothes the skin to help relieve redness and pain that you may deal with. And if you put the bottle in the fridge a bit before applying it, the already cool gel will feel even better, says Dr. Gohara.
4. Rub in some OTC hydrocortisone cream.
You know the cream your mother gave you for insect bitesReallyitchy? Yes that's it. Just like aloe, it's anti-inflammatory so your skin soothes TF, says Dr. Gohara. If you have an itchy sunburn, hydrocortisone cream is definitely the way to go. It contains ingredients that will cure the itchiness and soothe your sunburn.
5. Invest in a healing moisturizer.
Bad news: sunburn leaves the outer layer of skin d-a-m-a-g-e-d. Don't worry, once you tone down the inflammation, it will start to regenerate naturally on its own, says Dr. Gohara. However, if you want to speed up the process, she recommends applying a moisturizer with healing ingredients like Avène's Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream. It's made from sucralfate, a special ingredient that helps your skin regenerate.
6. Pour some milk on.
Yes, you read that right. According to Dr. Gohara will feel great to put a cloth in milk and burn it - and actually heal it too. That's because milk contains vitamins A and D, which help repair damaged cells, as well as lactic acid, a gentle exfoliant that peels off dead skin instantly. Pro tip: Stand in the shower while you try.
7. Two words: oatmeal bath.
Feeling lazy? I habechu. Fill your tub with lukewarm water (anything hotter will only make your sunburn worse) and add a couple of cups of oats in it. Oats fight inflammation and instantly cool your skin. Do you want to get pleasure? You can also add some milk to the bath, says Dr. Gohara. This way, you will benefit from both.
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8. Pop an anti-inflammatory.
As long as you do this within the first few hours after your sunburn, a few ibuprofene (or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like aspirin) can actually make your sunburn go away faster. Just take them every four to six hours until the pain subsides.
Once the redness and swelling subsides, your skin cells can repair the sunburned skin's barrier and create new skin, explains Dr. Shari Lipner, certified dermatologist, assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine, and member of the American Academy of Dermatology.
9. Drink all the water.
Have you ever noticed that you are especially thirsty when your skin looks crispy? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this is because sunburn draws fluid to the surface of the skin and removes it from the rest of the body. Drinking extra water after sunburn will make you feel better and prevent you from becoming dehydrated. Because sunburn + dehydration = hell.
10. Let the skin care cool down.
If you're dealing with a sunburn on your face, ditch scrubs, toners, face masks, acne medications, and antiaging products until they start to heal. Sun damage can make your skin extra sensitive (yes, even to products you use every day), so you can develop rashes or blisters if you stick to your usual routine.
Also, avoid products that contain lidocaine or benzocaine. Narcotics may sound like a good idea, but they can actually cause sunburned skin to flare up. Yikes
11. Same goes for makeup, avoid the ish.
Seriously, don't. However, if you want to cover up the redness, gently dust it off a light powder. You don't want to apply heavy liquid formulas as these will prevent the skin from receiving oxygen and could further irritate it. And if you can help, don't use makeup brushes. They'll only further irritate the skin, says Dr. Gohara. Use a makeup sponge or your (clean) fingers instead.
12. Wear your most comfortable clothes.
Tight clothing and tight-fitting straps can chafe and cause painful blisters on already damaged skin. Ow. Wear loose clothing that won't cling to the skin so as not to aggravate the area - yes, even if it means wearing a strapless bra to keep sunburned shoulders bare. Or, you know, just go braless. When it comes to fabric, opt for synthetic polyester and nylon blends, like the sweat-wicking T-shirts you wear to the gym. They keep your skin cool and don't stick.
13. Put petroleum jelly on your blisters.
You may think putting a band-aid over your blisters is a good idea, but imagine how it feels when you pull it off your sunburn later * cringe *. Instead, cover every single blister - not the entire burn, please - with petroleum jelly. It's basically nature's patch, says Dr. Gohara. 'It's a really good protective barrier that helps the skin heal, but you don't have to have glue on it,' she explains.
14. Do not. Choose.
I know, I know it's so satisfying to pluck and peel off your flaky, sunburned skin. But please don't. If you play around with it, you are more likely to get discoloration or scarring once your skin has healed.
15. Find some shade.
If you stay in the sun after your sunburn symptoms first appear, it can damage or widen the area more, says Dr. Lipner. If you still want to be outside, find shade and cover the sunburned area with clothing. Any fabric that you can't see light through when you hold it in the sun should be woven tight enough to protect you. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat is another smart move with a bonus: you'll look ridiculously chic.
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16. Don't freak out.
While there is an increased risk of skin cancer in areas with more sunburn, freaking out over a particularly bad burn doesn't help. Just take care of your skin using the above remedies and watch out for any unusual moles or markings. 'We can only do our best to protect ourselves and our skin,' says Dr. Lipner. So really, don't beat yourself up - just be smart now that the damage is done.
17. Call your derm.
If you have a huge sunburn, lots of blisters, or feel like you have a fever, call your dermatologist, says Dr. Gohara. And if you get sunburned, be sure to pay a visit. They can help you figure out how to take better care of your skin and make sure you aren't at risk of developing skin cancer.
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