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How To Get Rid Of Sunburn Fast

Updated on November 14, 2011

How To Get Rid Of Sunburn Fast

It's happened to everyone. The sun finally comes out, you get a bit carried away, don't even think about your skin, and whoops, a sunburn. And now you're in pain, and want to find out what you can do about it, or maybe give some good advice to someone who's in that boat. Fear not, I'm here to help.

In most cases, sunburns aren't serious. However, if the pain is very intense, you are continuously dizzy (for longer than half a day), or you develop asymmetric skin lesions, you should see a professional as soon as possible. A sunburn is the destruction, through UV light (this doesn't have to come only from the sun), of the lower skin layers. This causes the upper ones to become red and eventually peel away. As the skin is a self-repairing organism, this is mostly harmless, and there are easy ways to help the process along.

Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of a sunburn is time - the body needs to heal itself. There are, however, quite a few tricks to speed up the healing process. In this article, I'll be covering how to get rid of a sunburn fast, and how to prevent it in the first place. I'll put the 'prevention' section at the bottom, as the last thing you want right now is someone telling you what you shouldn't have done.

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A good tip is to place any sufficiently liquid cream into the fridge before using it. Make sure it is very liquid, otherwise it'll just clump into uselessness. Shake the bottle vigorously before applying, and be aware that the cream will be quite a bit thicker than before.

Topical Treatment

First of all, the important thing to remember is: you have a burn. Do not take hot showers - it's tepid or cold water for you until this is over. Heat will only worsen the burn. Cold water will reduce the swelling, and will let your body take care of the skin faster. It's a good idea to take cold showers or baths more often at this point.

Another important point is to avoid exposing the sunburn to sun or UV light. You can go outside, but just make sure you're covered. Ideally, you'll want to slather sunblock on under your clothes, as sun can and will get through them. On the topic of sunblock:

There are very many creams and ointments on the market that promise to help get rid of sunburn. Many of these are simply normal facial creams, and don't do very much. Two classes of creams do work, though, and help your skin heal faster. The first is simple sunblock - it contains nutrients for your skin, and will protect you from further exposure to the sun. The other are chilled creams and gels - these usually contain aloe vera, and are kept in the fridge. They're to be used in the evening, or if you won't be leaving the house any more.

If the pain is very intense, but you don't suspect anything beyond a normal sunburn, you can wet cloths with cold water and put them on the burnt areas. Another tip here: you can also wet your clothes, if the climate is sufficiently warm.

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Other Remedies

In order to help the skin in its healing process, make sure to get plenty of vitamins and antioxidants. Vitamin C is crucial at this stage, and drinking lots of orange juice will help. Make sure to drink a lot in any case.

For food, I can only recommend eating lots of tomatoes. They are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, and will help get rid of the sunburn quickly. Berries are very good as well, as are most green vegetables.

If the pain is particularily bad, you can take a simple over-the-counter painkiller. Acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen all work well, though be sure to read the leaflet carefully.

Sunburn Prevention

Prevention is obviously the best way to get rid of sunburn - make sure you don't get it in the first place. The most obvious thing to do is to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, especially around lunchtime. Find shelter before 11:00AM, and come back out after 3:00PM. The sun is strongest through mid-day.

The next point is the one that is iterated everywhere. Wear sunblock. Make sure you get one with a high protection factor, and put it on liberally. Get someone to help you with your back, if necessary. Avoid the spray ones, as they tend to give very irregular coverage. And renew the sunblock frequently - ideally every 1-2 hours. Sunblock, as the label claims, is usually waterproof. It isn't towel-proof! If you've been in the water, put on another layer.

I hope this has been a useful article, and I wish you a swift recovery. Hope you can enjoy the sun again soon!


If I've missed anything, or you have any tips, I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

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