11 Ways to soothe sun-damaged skin
Visit an Atlanta-based dermatologist to evaluate your sun-damaged skin.
By Angela Tague
Summers in Atlanta include sweet tea by the pool, walks in colorful gardens and delicious patio lunches. But have you soaked up too much of that powerful Georgia sun during your outings? Are you suffering from a sunburn? Ouch! This type of sun-damaged skin requires immediate attention and soothing remedies.
On the day of the sunburn, treat your skin with some TLC. Instead of showering, relax in a cool water bath. Do not add ice cubes or make the water too cold, as this can damage your skin further. Surrounding your skin with the calm, cool water will help reduce discomfort and inflammation. The last thing you want touching your sore skin is a steady stream of water!
Hydrate your skin by applying soothing aloe vera gel directly to the sunburn. This natural remedy helps remove the hot feeling of the skin and heal the sun-damaged skin. If aloe vera isn't available, reach for a skin cream with alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic or lactic acid that help remove dead skin cells, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.
If your skin begins to blister, don't pick or pop the tiny bubbles. This is a sign of a more severe sunburn. Your skin is attempting to cool itself by holding moisture next to the burn. If the blisters pop on their own, gently apply an antibiotic ointment to keep infections away. Blisters that pop and fill with pus are infected and should be treated by a dermatologist.
4. Nourish the skin
Soothe the sunburn by nourishing your skin. Use a lotion or moisturizing body oil that contains vitamin E. This will speed up the healing process and promote new skin growth. Apply the lotion or oil with a soft cotton makeup sponge to avoid peeling the skin.
In addition to topical ointments, lotions and oils hydrate your skin from the inside out. Drink ice water to feel cooler and fuel your skin cells. Your body is working hard to repair the sunburn. Staying hydrated will help speed up the healing process.
Sometimes old remedies passed down through the generations work best. To remove the sting of a sunburn, fill a small spray bottle with white vinegar and gently mist the red skin. The pungent odor will go away once the vinegar dries. Or, fill the spray bottle with cooled black tea. The tannins in tea can reduce pain and swelling.
As the redness begins to subside, soothe the sunburn by massaging coconut oil on the delicate new skin. Coconut oil has natural antibacterial properties to keep infections away, and the oil is also a great way to moisturize tender skin.
Although your skin is sore, taking an anti-inflammatory medication can reduce inflammation from the inside out. An over-the-counter dose of ibuprofen or naproxen will dull the pain of a minor sunburn within minutes.
If your sunburn is unbearable, head to your family doctor. He can prescribe topical ointments such as lidocaine to numb the pain. This treatment makes it easier to sleep and work with a severe sunburn. If the pain is unmanagable, ask about prescription-level painkillers to dull the pain.
Soak a hand towel in cool water, ring it out and apply the damp cloth to your sunburn. Lay the cloth gently over the skin. Avoid rolling or rubbing the skin. This can peel away delicate skin. Don't use ice packs or ice cubes directly on burned skin. These can freeze the delicate tissue and cause even more pain.
The last thing you want to do to a sunburn is expose it to more sun. If you must go outside, wear loose-fitting clothing over the burned skin and stay in the shade. Also use sunscreen on any exposed skin to prevent more burns.
Avoid future sunburns by wearing sunscreen daily, year-round. To make the task easier, choose skin moisturizers, makeup, lotions and lip balms infused with SPF. Get in the habit of wearing hats and long-sleeved, loose-fitting clothing when you'll be outside for an extended period of time. Plan outdoor activities--such as picnics--in shaded areas.
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