With summer right around the corner, it should come as no surprise that now is the time to step up your sun safety precautions. While sun safety is something that should be practiced year round, now is a great time to brush up on some sun safety tips to get a great practice in place. Even with a solid sun safety regimen in place, accidents can happen. In the case of burns, we also want to arm you with tips on how to treat and relieve sunburns at home, as well as when to see a doctor in severe situations.
Prevention is the best way to keep your skin healthy and youthful, as well as skin cancer free. Great practices on how to protect yourself from the sun include:
- Avoid direct sun exposure between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM
- Wear sunscreen every day, regardless of weather or season. Utilize a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 so you are protected against UVA and UVB rays
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours if you are sweating or swimming
- Use sunglasses with total UV protection
- Wear brimmed hats and long sleeves and pants when possible
- Check skin regularly for developments or changes
- Don’t use tanning beds!
If you find yourself with a sunburn, immediately get out of the sun! Sunburns often take hours to develop to their full intensity, so be mindful of any feeling of burning or pink/red coloration of skin and seek shade. Once you are out of the sun, the quicker you take action on your burn, the better. You have the ability to lessen your discomfort, as well as possibly lessen the damage done to your skin by taking quick action. Treatment of the burn should include:
- Take ibuprofen and utilize cold compresses to reduce inflammation. Compresses can utilize cold water, witch hazel, tea bags, milk, or aluminum acetate (found at drugstores)
- Don’t shower or bathe in hot water, don’t use soap if possible, and only pat dry with a towel. Only take cool showers or baths with soothing add ins such as oatmeal, vinegar, or baking soda
- Moisturize! This will help the severity of the itching and peeling. Try to use a moisturizer that has both Vitamin C and E, Aloe, or Soy. You can also try Hydrocortisone cream to reduce discomfort and inflammation as well.
- Drink extra fluids, as the burn will have a dehydrating effect on the rest of your body
- Do not agitate the healing process by trying to peel skin before it is ready or hurt blisters
If you develop fever, chills, nausea, faintness, heavy blistering, burns on more than 20% of your body, or intense itchiness or pain, you may have a severe burn that needs medical treatment. If you develop even one of these symptoms with your sunburn, we recommend you call your primary care provider as a precaution. It is important to note that some prescriptions cause photosensitivity and therefore make you more susceptible to burns and skin damage. If you take any medication regularly, we suggest you review with your doctor to ensure you are aware of this potential side effect. Even after your burns have gone, your skin will take months to return to normal. The new skin that surfaced as a result of the burn is extremely sensitive, so be sure to take extra precautions to keep yourself safe. We hope you have a wonderful summer and (safely) get out and enjoy the sunshine!