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10 Remedies to Sooth Your Spring Break Sunburn

You were dreaming about achieving that perfect, sun-kissed glow over spring break, only to come back looking like a lobster. When you’re exposed to ultraviolet radiation, your skin produces more melanin to protect itself, resulting in a tan. However, most peoples’ bodies do not produce enough melanin to fully protect itself and the skin becomes burned. Between achy, hot red skin and peeling, sunburns are never fun. Most sunburns heal within a few days, but not without a lot of discomfort. If you just got back from spring break or are planning ahead for summer, here are ten sunburn remedies:

1. Cool it down

Chances are your sunburn is hot to touch and is causing you a lot of pain. If you need some immediate relief, press a cold compress, like an icepack or frozen peas, onto the burned area for a while. You can also jump in a cool bath or shower. Remember that the water should be cool, not freezing cold. Dunking your entire body into icy water may just irritate your skin even more, so keep it cool for better relief. A cold compress or cold shower should draw out some of the heat and relieve your pain almost immediately. 

2. Moisturizing is key

As a general rule in life, a good moisturizer fixes anything- even a sunburn. After any time in the sun, your skin may feel a bit drier than usual. You might notice more dry areas or unsightly peeling, so don’t be afraid to go crazy hydration. First, apply oil to the area. You can either buy an oil specifically made for dry skin, or go the natural route with coconut oil, olive oil, argon oil, jojoba oil, or tea tree oil. Then, apply moisturizer or body lotion to the affected areas (or everywhere because moisturizing is important). My favorite heavy-duty moisturizer is Bath & Body Works body butter. This stuff works wonders on dry skin. The double layers of oil and moisturizer are sure to sooth your quenched skin and help with dry, peeling areas.

3. Hydrate all day

While you’re hydrating your skin, you should be hydrating the rest of your body too because if you’re trying to keep moisture in, there should be some type of moisture to actually keep in. Drinking water helps prevent fluid loss through your skin by creating a barrier and carry nutrients to skin cells. This will help your sunburn heal even faster.

4. Say “aloe-ha” to better skin

Aloe Vera is a sunburn cure classic and there’s a good reason for it. Aloe helps heal sunburned skin, while also moisturizing the area. If you have an aloe plant at home, cut off one of the leaves and rub it on your skin. Aloe Vera from the store works just as well as the plant.

Bonus: for extra relief, store your bottle of aloe in the fridge so that it’s cool when applied.

5. Don’t just drink your milk

Chance are you can find milk or yogurt in your own fridge. Dairy contains proteins and fats that will help inflammation and soothe your sunburn. Pour a glass or milk and a couple minutes so that it slightly warms up. You still want it to be cool, but not as icy cold as when you first take it out of the fridge. Take a wash cloth, soak it in milk, and apply it to sunburned areas. Yogurt contains the same proteins and fats found in milk, so apply it to sunburned areas, leave on for 10 minutes, and rinse it off in the shower.

6. Soothing starch

Surprisingly, cornstarch has anti-inflammatory properties. Pour some cornstarch in a bowl and add a bit of water. Mix the cornstarch and water until it forms a paste and apply it to sunburned areas. The anti-inflammatory properties will help soothe red, inflamed burns on your skin.

7. OTC relief for sunburn relief

Over-the-counter, or OTC, medications are a quick way to aid sunburn relief. If you’re swinging by the store to pick up some aloe, pick up some anesthetic sprays and healing creams as well. Painkillers, like ibuprofen, Aleve, or Tylenol can also help ease pain and reduce inflammation.

8. Put down the blow dryer

Even if you have long hair covering your entire head, you can still get a sunburn on the top of your head. If you brush your hair and feel a stinging sensation, you probably have a sunburned scalp. When this happens, it’s best to set aside any styling tools that use heat, like a blow dryer, straightener, or curling iron. If you have long hair, you can still use some heat at the end of the strand, but it’s best to stay away from your roots. In the meantime, you may have to change up your routine. If you’re a morning shower person who relies on blow dryer to get to school or work on time, try showering at night and let your hair air dry. You can even try heat-free styling techniques for a cute look without the heat.

9. Keep your pout pain free

If you’ve ever gotten a sunburn on your lips, you know how annoying it can be. Your lips may feel achy, dried out, and simple tasks, like eating and talking, can hurt. This is one type of sunburn you’ll want to get rid of fast. Apply petroleum jelly or a soothing lip balm to the area to keep your lips from drying out. The extra layer of protection will help soothe the burn and keep moisture in.

10. Stay in the shade

If you’re already sunburned, getting more sun is the last thing you want to do. When you’re outside, stay in the shade and wear light clothing that covers up any exposed areas. A hat and sunglasses never hurt either. Your skin needs a break while it’s healing, so give it the TLC it deserves.Sunburns suck, but here’s to a quick recovery and better skin. You’ll be enjoying the warm weather before you know it- hopefully while wearing sunscreen this time.

Kendra Lamer

UW Stout '19

Kendra Lamer is the Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at UW-Stout. She is a professional communication and emerging media major with a concentration in applied journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. When she's not doing school work or writing for Her Campus, you can find her dancing at the studio, going for a run, drinking coffee or decorating for holidays way too early. After graduating, she plans on pursuing a career in public relations or journalism and adopting lots of dogs.
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