Science knows exactly how to fix sunburns and we’re SO grateful

Sunburns are the absolute worst! Nobody likes all the pain and headache (not to mention legitimate danger) involved in the sun scorching your skin. Luckily, science knows exactly how to fix sunburns with 10 easy steps and we are forever grateful! A board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine, Dr. Shari Lipner, recently told Cosmopolitan“What you do after sunburn can play a large role in how fast you heal.”

So, the next time your day at the beach or accidental over-sunning afternoon results in a sunburn, follow these steps as soon as possible to heal the sun damage.

Get out of the sun ASAP

The moment you feel yourself getting burned, or the sunburn symptoms begin to creep up (which can happen within a few hours of sun exposure), find some shade. You can also put on more clothing to cover the affected area and at the very least apply more sunscreen to help the burn keep from getting worse.


Do a cool water rinse

Many sunburns result in swelling in addition to the redness you’re used to, so taking a cool shower or bath can help relieve the swelling and reduce inflammation. Try swapping out those fizzy soaps and fragrant bubbles with oatmeal or soy-based soaps for less skin irritation.

Throw an ice pack on it

When you don’t have time for a cool shower or calming bath, you can — and should — apply an ice pack (wrapped in a towel) to the burned area. Leave it on for at least five minutes, a few times per day.

Aloe Vera for the win

According to Dr. Lipner, the best treatment to help maintain moisture in your dried, burned skin, is aloe vera. It is a cooling agent as well as a natural anti-inflammatory gel so apply it liberally.


Lighten up your usual skincare regiment

Even though it’s probably taken years to find the right skincare regiment for your body, when you have a sunburn you might have to switch things up. Remember that the sun damage you endure could lead to more sensitive skin so your usual body products could irritate your sunburned skin.

*Don’t forget, makeup can lead to more irritation, so when possible don’t use any cover up or heavy powders and creams on the burn.

Water, water, water

Even if you don’t get a sunburn, being outside and in the sun for a decent amount of time can easily result in dehydration, so drink as much water as possible to counteract it. Staying away from alcohol (which can lead to dehydration) is also recommended.

Anti-inflammatory pills are your friend

When taken within the first few hours of getting a sunburn (and every four to six hours after — until the pain is gone), anti-inflammatory pills can reduce inflammation (obviously) and help you recover faster.

Baggy clothes are a must

By wearing baggy clothing or light-weight pieces that don’t stick to your skin, you won’t add to your pain and discomfort. Bonus: it’s an excuse not to wear a tight bra and lay around in comfy sweats while drinking water and eating ice cream on the couch!


Bandaids for blisters

According to Dr. Lipner, popping or messing with your blisters in any way is a *big* no-no. You should keep the blister site clean and covered with a bandaid or gauze during the day, removing it at night so your skin can breathe.

Don’t panic

Although you are more at risk for skin cancer after repeated sunburns, you should NOT freak out and stress yourself out whenever you fall victim to a sunburn. Just be more vigilant in your skin care and sunburn protection routine in the future. Daily sunscreen can cut your melanoma risk in half, so keep sunscreen handy at all times. And be sure to do a self skin exam to keep an eye on any moles or change in freckles or see a certified dermatologist once a year (or more) to make sure you’re protected.

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