How to treat a sunburn
This time of year, many patients show up at my office with sunburns. I never scold them, but I do remind them that a sunburn is a real burn, so it should be treated right away. Here’s how to minimize the damage if you get burned this summer:
∙ Get indoors, preferably somewhere with A/C. Better yet, take a cool shower to bring down your skin temperature. Then apply aloe vera gel (either fresh or from the drugstore), which contains natural anti-inflammatory ingredients and is water based, so it cools as it evaporates. If you can't shower right away, stop off at a grocery store to get cold yogurt and apply it to the sunburned areas.
∙ Take ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to help reduce swelling, redness, and pain. If you already take aspirin or a blood thinner, check with your doctor first.
∙ Chug a glass of cold green tea and apply cold green tea compresses every few hours. Studies have shown that oral and topical green tea both help with sunburn pain and swelling. To make a compress, soak a washcloth or handkerchief in cold green tea, wring it out, and apply over burned skin for 5-10 minutes. Repeat several times a day.
∙ If it itches, apply an over the counter cortisone cream. Once it starts to peel, use an emollient body cream. Do not pick or “help it along”; you may end up ripping off new skin.
∙ Drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate and replace electrolytes. If you have fever, headache, nausea, or feel faint, call your doctor or go to an emergency room because these can be a signs of heat stroke.