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Help! I’ve just gotten badly sunburned at the beach over the weekend! My skin is very red and painful! What are my best options?
Dear Sorry Sunner,
Oh my goodness! I am so sorry for you! In the event that this kind of damage has been done (and I hope you will be extra cautious in the future by wearing sunscreen and staying in the shade!), there are some options to help your skin recover quickly from a burn.
- For the First 24 Hours: Cool the burn– Applying a topical aloe vera gel and cold compresses (cold water on wash cloths or paper towels) is the best way to cool down the burn and reduce inflammation. If you have already phoned you physician, he or she may suggest Advil or Aleve to help reduce the inflammation internally (but please do not do this without consulting with your doctor first!)
- Avoid additional sun exposure, heat and hot showers– This will exacerbate the burn. Really baby your skin for the next week by treating it delicately and by keeping your body temperature cool. Shower in tepid water and do not spend time outdoors if it is a hot day.
- Avoid alcohol and soda– Your skin is in repair mode and needs all of the moisture that it can get. Avoid drinking alcoholic and fizzy caffeinated beverages for the next week or so and make sure you stay very well hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Consume foods high in antioxidants and water-Cucumbers, bell peppers, watermelon, berries- these are all fantastic foods rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants and water to help support your skin in its healing process.
- After 72 hours, apply coconut oil. Wait the 72 hours, as coconut oil is very occlusive and can actually trap heat into the skin. After the 72 hours has passed, it is safe to apply and will be very healing for the skin. Unsulfured coconut oil from the grocery store will do just fine!
- If you start to peel, don’t pick! Allow the skin to slough off on its own and do not pick. I also do no recommend exfoliating with anything at this time (no scrubs, no loofahs, etc.) as you skin has just been through a pretty big trauma. Keep it lubricated with coconut oil and know that it will slough off on its own.
- Remember, prevent sun damage. In the future, wear a combined mineral and chemical sunscreen, avoid direct sun between the hours of 10am and 4pm and wear a hat. Stay in the shade if possible! I hope you feel better soon! XO, Ashli