We are halfway through summer and the heat is on! Hopefully your sunscreen is on, too! However, on those mind-boggling beautiful beach days when you’ve surfed the most epic waves of your life BUT forgot to reapply your sunscreen, there is still hope. What to do when you get a sunburn? First, don’t panic! If a sunburn is treated early enough, the long-term damage can actually be lessened. Here are some helpful tips:
- Immediately take 800 mg Ibuprofen. This works almost instantly to decrease the inflammation that comes from a sunburn. Studies show that inflammation can eventually lead to cancer and it is to be avoided at all costs. If the sunburn is extreme and blisters are appearing on the skin, see a dermatologist immediately for an intramuscular injection of steroid that can work even more quickly to halt inflammation and pain that come from a sunburn.
- Apply steroid cream to the entire sunburn. Over the counter cortisone cream works well for a mild sunburn. If severe, call your dermatologist to get a prescription for a higher strength steroid cream. Aloe vera works minimally to decrease inflammation – best to use steroid creams with a proven track record for immediate relief.
- Increase your intake of fruits and especially green leafy vegetables that abound in antioxidants. Antioxidants can assist in healing damaged skin but also help to avoid further damage by strengthening the collagen and elastin in your skin. On normal skin using a few drops of topical vitamin C serum prior to sunscreen actually potentiates your sunscreen by a factor of four.
Tips for Avoiding a Sunburn!
- Buy a broad-brimmed hat! This will help protect your face, neck and ears while healing and help you avoid future sunburns as well. A visor simply covers the forehead, eyes and upper part of your nose. The rest of your face is completely exposed to the sun and vulnerable to further damage.
- Wear a rash guard and/or leggings and waterproof hat if you are planning on being in the sun and or water for extended periods of time. This is a much easier way to stay protected in case you forget to reapply your sunscreen.
- Make sure your sunscreen is at least an SPF 30 with an active ingredient of at least 9% zinc oxide. Physical blockers (not screens) work better to block UVA and UVB and seem to last longer through sweat and water. Reapply every two hours while sweating or swimming.
- Bring a sun-protective umbrella or tent to the beach so you can seek shade when not enjoying the sand and surf.
So now that you know how to treat a sunburn let’s all do our best to avoid one for the rest of the summer! Here’s to enjoying our beautiful San Diego safely!