What is the Best Treatment for Sunburn?

Close up of a man's sunburned back on the beach
The summer is a beautiful season in Seattle. Going out for a socially distanced activity in the sunshine is a breath of fresh air right now. As you embrace the rays, we urge you to remember to practice safe fun in the sun: UV damage and sunburns not only increase your risk for skin cancer, but also cause wrinkles, sagging skin and brown spots.

Treatment for Sunburns

Sometimes you get a sunburn despite precautions. While we urge you to avoid sunburns at all times, here are some tips for sunburn relief should you need them:

  • Apply aloe vera or calamine lotion. These moisturizers soothe burning skin.
  • Cool off with a damp cloth. Dampen a wash cloth with cool water and gently hold it to the skin that is sunburned.
  • Don’t re-expose your skin. Stay out of the sun while your skin heals.
  • Hydrate from the inside out. Drink water so that you don’t further tax your skin with dehydration.
  • Let blistering skin heal. Don’t scratch or break the blisters.
  • Take a pain reliever. Over-the-counter ibuprofen may relieve any discomfort from the sunburn (always check with your doctor before taking a medication for the first time).

How to Practice Safe Fun in the Sun

Your risk of developing melanoma doubles if you have a history of 5 or more sunburns. Please practice safe fun in the sun:

  • Use sunscreen. For basic daily activities in which you might be mostly indoors, wear a SPF-15 moisturizer and/or foundation. Grab a hat if you go outside for a walk. On the weekends or days in which you may be spending extended time outdoors, apply a broad-spectrum SPF-30 or higher sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin.
  • Apply enough sunscreen. You should use about 1 ounce of sunscreen spread out over the areas of exposed skin. Apply every two hours or after sweating or swimming.
  • Wear sunscreen on cloudy days. A percentage of UV radiation gets through the clouds. Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days when you’ll be outdoors.
  • Wear protective clothing. Wide-brimmed hats, loose long sleeves and pants will keep direct sun off your skin. Consider covering up with clothing if you aren’t wearing sunscreen.

To learn more, or to arrange a consultation to discuss how you can reverse sun damage, please call Advanced Dermatology and Laser Institute of Seattle at 206-402-4797.