How To Ease Sunburn & Sunburn Pain

BLOG_VISUALS_SUN_V1_HEADERSunburns: They can happen to the best, most diligent SPF users amongst us. You applied your sunscreen before you went outside. Maybe you even went the extra mile and re-applied later in the day. And alas, in spite of your best efforts at protection, you find yourself with the worst sunburn ever. And that seared skin sensation is not pleasant, especially when it lingers for days on end.

But why exactly does your skin respond to UV damage like this? According to New York City dermatologist, Dr. Ellen Marmur, “When the skin is burned, your body responds immediately by increasing blood flow to the area. This makes the skin look red and yes, actually feel warm to the touch. Your body also releases histamine, which triggers the inflammatory response behind the pain and warmth.” 

If you’re now wondering how to ease sunburn, we’ve put together our five cardinal rules for nursing your skin back to health and make the process a little bit more bearable while you’re at it.

Post-exposure, your skin needs some time to recover. For a mild to moderate burn, Dr. Marmur says it can take up to seven days to heal, though she notes that small amounts of peeling can occur for several weeks. During that time, avoid prolonged exposure at all costs — your skin is already heavily damaged and therefore more susceptible to further injury. 

According to Dr. Marmur, the same over-the-counter fix we use for headaches can help alleviate the pain of a sunburn. “Take ibuprofen to help with the discomfort and swelling of a sunburn,” she advises. In addition to just managing pain, “the anti-inflammatory effect [of ibuprofen] can prevent the second wave of damage from certain inflammatory reactions.”

BLOG_VISUALS_SUN_V1_RULE_3When you get a burn, water is drawn to the skin’s surface to help combat the dryness caused by UV radiation. “Drinking water when you are sunburned helps prevent dehydration and optimize your circulation to ensure better healing,” explains Dr. Marmur.

BLOG_VISUALS_SUN_V1_RULE_4.jpgIt may seem tempting to accelerate your skin’s regeneration process along by sloughing off that peeling skin, but you’re actually making things a lot worse rather than treating a sunburn. According to Dr. Marmur, “Loofahs, scrubs, body brushes, and even rough washcloths can further irritate your sunburn and hinder your skin’s ability to heal itself, so it is best to abstain from your normal exfoliating routine until your sunburn has mostly disappeared.” Also, rubbing scratchy things against already irritated skin is downright excruciating. Do you really want to make your skin suffer anymore than it already is?

BLOG_VISUALS_SUN_V1_RULE_5.jpgCaring for irritation means picking products known for their skin-soothing superpowers. One of our favorites is centella asiatica (also known as cica), which is one of the most potent skin-calming plants nature has to offer. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory to help fight that histamine-induced redness and pain Dr. Marmur mentioned earlier.

If you want to help your skin both heal and immediately cool down, we recommend the Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream. Added bonus: It also provides essential calming and nourishment with magnesium and turmeric. You can also spritz on the Watermelon Glow Ultra-Fine Mist, which intensely hydrates raw, red skin with a blend of watermelon fruit extract and hyaluronic acid. (Keep it in the skin for extra cooling, which can help cut the pain.)

Read more about staying safe in the sun:

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