It has unfortunately happened to many of us. We spend a great day outdoors with friends or family, enjoying the sunny weather after a long winter only to discover later in the day that we have a sunburn. We all make mistakes, but it is important to “learn from the burn” and stop it from happening again. Sunburns and excessive sun exposure cause our skin to age prematurely, and drastically increase the risk of skin cancer. If you have had more than five sunburns, your risk of developing melanoma doubles.
However, upon discovering that your skin is burned, here are a few recommendations from the Skin Cancer Foundation:
1. Cool It Down
If you are near water, take a quick dip to cool your skin but then immediately get out of the sun and cover up your skin. Cold compresses will then help to cool your skin once you get indoors. Do not apply ice directly to the burn. If you take a cool shower, keep it brief as it can be drying. Do not use harsh soap as it can irritate the skin more.
This is best done while the skin is still damp. Use a gentle moisturizer that doesn’t contain petroleum or oil. Those ingredients could trap the heat and make the burn worse. You will want to repeat moisturizing to help the skin stay moist over the next few days.
3. Decrease Inflammation
A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help with inflammation and discomfort. Redness and swelling can also be soothed a bit by using an over-the-counter 1 percent cortisone cream. For mild burns, aloe vera may provide relief and is generally considered safe.
4. Stay Hydrated
You may become dehydrated as burns will pull fluids to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body. Be sure to drink extra liquids such as water and sports drinks as they will help your body to replace electrolytes immediately while your skin is healing.
5. See a Doctor…
If there is severe blistering over a large area of the body, fever and chills, or you are woozy or confused. Leave blisters alone, as scratching or popping them can lead to infection.
Please remember, your skin will heal, but major damage has been done. Not only do sunburns lead to premature skin aging, but they put you at a significant risk for skin cancer. Commit to keeping your skin protected every day, all year long.
At Concept Medical in Ottawa, we offer several solutions to help reverse sun damage and premature skin aging. To book your consultation, please contact us.