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Vital Signs: Taking care of your sunburnt skin

By Anna Kellaher

As the weather gets warmer, you’ll hopefully be spending more time outside. Sunny days are great, but they can leave you with a sunburn if you don’t use proper protection. Prevention from sunburn is always the best option, but sometimes you might find yourself a little red at the end of the day. Here is what the American Academy of Dermatology recommends to help you recover from a sunburn.

As soon as you notice a sunburn starting, get out of the sun and preferably stay inside. To help relieve pain, take periodic cool baths or showers. Pat yourself dry instead of rubbing and leave a little bit of water on your skin.

Use moisturizer to trap the water in to help reduce the dryness of your skin. Using a moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy can help soothe the skin.

Do not apply products that end in “-caine,” such as the topical anesthetic, Benzocaine. These products can further irritate the skin and have the potential to cause an allergic reaction. Taking aspirin or ibuprofen will help to reduce swelling, redness and discomfort if your skin gets irritated.

Sunburnt skin draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body. To avoid dehydration, you should drink extra water to compensate for this side effect.

Second-degree sunburns will cause blisters on the skin. Allow these blisters to heal on their own — popping the blisters will interrupt the skin-healing process and opens the skin to potential infection.

While the skin is recovering, take extra precautions to protect it from getting burnt again. The best option is to wear clothing that covers your skin when outdoors.

As you spend more time enjoying the warm weather, remember that the best way to avoid a sunburn altogether is by applying and reapplying sunscreen and keeping yourself covered from the sun with hats and clothing.


  1. It never hurts to review the basics of taking care of sunburnt skin. Bad sunburns can also complicate or trigger or other skin-related conditions, so if you unusual symptoms show up in the aftermath of a sunburn, it can be a good idea to see your doctor.


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