How to heal sunburn fast

No-one wants their holiday ruined by sunburn.  It can be very painful, and in severe cases cause you to feel really unwell with a fever. If you suspect you are seriously unwell or your sunburn is infected you should seek medical attention immediately.

Treating your sunburn in the right way can quickly improve how you feel by drawing the heat out of the burn faster and by improving that itching and burning that keeps you locked up indoors and unable to sleep.

If you suspect you might be burning, the chances are you already have.  Put yourself in the shade immediately.  Sunburn peaks 24-48 hours after sun exposure so act fast and be sensible.

Aloe vera is a popular ingredient in many after-sun gels and lotions, and for good reason.  It helps to keep your skin soothed, cooled and well moisturised.  Sunburn is extremely drying for your skin so frequent application of moisturiser throughout the day is essential to prevent that tight uncomfortable feeling.

Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration caused by sunburn.  8-10 glasses a day is recommended.

Fresh lemon is fantastic at drawing out the heat of sunburn.  Its high vitamin C content aids the skins healing abilities and the natural citric acid works on the burn as an effective antiseptic.  The best way to use fresh lemon is to squeeze the juice out of 2 or 3 and apply juice liberally all over the sunburn.  Leave the juice and pith on the skin and sleep with it overnight. In the morning the sunburn will be heaps better.

Run a cool-to-luke warm bath and apply two cups of apple cider vinegar to the water.  Have a good soak in there for 20-30 minutes if you can.  Not only will this help to cool you down and remove all the lemon residue, the apple cider vinegar will draw more heat out and reduce any stinging you may be feeling from the burn.

Coconut oil applied to the skin as a moisturiser also does wonders for sunburn.  It has anti-inflammatory properties so helps to reduce the red appearance and thus works to reduce the heat in the burn as well.

Lastly if your sunburn starts to peel; and hopefully it won’t if you’ve taken the tips above; please don’t pick at your skin.  I know it’s tempting.  The best thing to do is apply more moisturiser to the peeling areas.  This will help the dead skin to peel off quicker without removing additional skin that isn’t ready to come off yet.

By Una Jefford
Practice Nurse
The London Dermatology Centre

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