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Simple ways to relieve sunburn

If you've ever spent too much time in the sun without taking the proper precautions to protect your skin, you know the itchy, blistery aftermath of a sunburn can be painful. Feel better faster with these tips.

What is the best way to treat sunburn?

While there are steps you can take to ease the discomfort of a sunburn, there's no real way to speed up the healing process. It simply takes time. Expect three to seven days for a mild to moderate sunburn and up to 10 days if you develop blisters. In the meantime, you can find some relief by:

  • Applying cool compresses to your sunburn
  • Taking an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen
  • Dabbing petroleum jelly on any areas that are blistering or peeling
  • Keeping skin moisturized
  • Rubbing aloe vera on effected areas to help cool your skin
  • Keeping your sunburn covered and out of the sun when outside

When should I seek professional help for a sunburn?

Occasionally a sunburn can be severe enough that symptoms become dangerous. If you experience a fever, headache, vomiting, severe pain, dehydration or an extensive part of your body develops blisters, seek medical care.

What else can I do?

Prevent, prevent, prevent. After your sunburn heals, prioritize avoiding a repeat episode by:

  • Slathering on sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and reapplying it every couple of hours or after sweating or swimming
  • Choosing a zinc oxide/titanium dioxide sunscreen
  • Wearing sun-protective clothing
  • Protecting your face with a wide-brimmed hat
  • Staying in shady areas when outside
  • Not going outside from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest

Have questions about sunscreen or how to best protect your skin? Find answers to things like:

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