How to treat a sunburn
While the best way to deal with sunburn is not to get one — think sunscreen, limited midday exposure and hats — here’s what to do if you get baked:
• Cool it down. Soak a cloth with cool water and rest it on burns for about 20 minutes. Then apply a balm such as aloe vera. You also can use a mild lotion — aim for one without perfume or dye — to help keep skin moisturized.
• Bathe with cool water. Don’t take hot showers or baths and avoid cleaning burned areas with soap, which can be an irritant. Pat your skin dry with a towel instead of rubbing.
• Wear comfortable clothes. Choose loose-fitting cotton; wool and man-made materials such as polyester may chafe against a burn. You also can lie down a soft cotton blanket on couches, chairs and beds.
• Don’t peel your skin. Picking at a burned spot will irritate it and slow healing.
• Stay out of the sun. Some people think that if they’re already burned, it can’t get worse. Not true. Wait until your skin has healed or cover up as much as possible.
• Drink lots of water. You can dehydrate more quickly if you are sunburned.
• Take painkillers. If your burns bother you, get an over-the-counter medicine with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, such as Tylenol, Advil or Motrin.
• See a doctor if needed. Call if your skin blisters or peels severely.