You know you should always apply sunscreen before you spend hours in the warmth of the sun, but this time, itís too late ó you have started to blister and burn, and that angry red skin is painful and uncomfortable. Here are a few ways to heal a sunburn fast, as well as relieve the pain of the burn.
First, if youíve had the sunburn for less than 24 hours, pop an aspirin ASAP. Not only does aspirin help reduce the pain of the burn, it also reduces the amount of inflammation under the skin, allowing it to heal more quickly. (While naproxen and ibuprofen will also accomplish these goals, aspirin is recommended because it is gentler to the body, and your body already has plenty to do in working to heal the burn.)
Second, very gently apply cool, damp washcloths to the burned area(s). Not only does the cool temperature feel great against hot, burned skin, it helps to take the heat out of the burn. In addition, cooling the burn reduces the chances of peeling over the next few days.
Third, do your best to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids ó especially water or a sports drink that doesnít contain caffeine or excess sugar ó to keep your body from feeling thirsty. The sun saps skin of moisture, and burned skin is extremely dry. Itís important to keep skin moist from the inside out to encourage healing and reduce the burn. Remember that sugary beverages and caffeine do nothing to encourage hydration, and may in fact actually sap the body of moisture.
Finally, apply an aloe vera spray, topical gel or healing gel directly to the burn. Aloe vera is your best option for reducing and healing your sunburn quickly because it simultaneously cools and heals the skin. In addition, it moisturizes the skin deeply, which reduces the possibility of peeling. Be sure you check the label when you purchase an aloe vera product though ó you want to choose natural or organic skin products, and avoid products that contain anesthetics or alcohol, both of which can dry and irritate already pained flesh.
For double the relief, keep your aloe vera product in the fridge. It will feel amazing on the burned skin, and the cool temperature also allows the aloe vera product to last longer than it would in room temperature conditions.
Because burned skin is already dried out, itís important to keep it moisturized; if your skin can stand it, you should continue to use aloe vera-based gel moisturizer or hydrating cream to keep skin as moist as possible.
Donít forget your SPF the next time you plan to spend any amount of time in the sun ó look for a minimum of SPF 15, or a higher number if you plan to be out for extended lengths of time, and reapply often if you are participating in water activities.
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