Dermatologists’ 6 Tips for Sunburn Recovery

The only thing that’s worse than getting a sunburn is the panic that sets in when you realize you’re not entirely sure how to treat the sunburn. So, we compiled a list of 6 tips for sunburn recovery with the help of top dermatologists Dr. Stuart Maddin and Dr. Richard Thomas, Clinical Associate Professor of Clinical Dermatology, Department of Dermatology and Skin Science, University of British Columbia.

The next time you’re in pain and red all over, this routine will put you on the fast track to healing:

1. Gauge the severity of your sunburn. Our tips will help heal a low-grade sunburn, but more severe sunburns may require professional help. If you experience the following symptoms, consult a physician:

  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Extreme thirst, no urine output, or sunken eyes
  • Rapid pulse or rapid breathing
  • Pale, clammy, or cool skin
  • Nausea, fever, chills, or rash
  • Severe, painful blisters

2. When the sunburn is fresh, keep skin cool. Take a cold bath or shower, and change into fresh clothes.
“During the acute phase, chilled washed clothes will provide the fastest and most effective relief.”
-Dr. Stuart Maddin

3. Apply an anti-inflammatory, like aloe vera.
“Aloe vera is a plant whose moist, gelatinous exudate is extracted to harvest as a anti-inflammatory. Pre- 1953 and cortico steroids, Aloe vera was used in hospitals to treat x-ray burns. When the moist gel is applied to sunburnt skin, it will reduce inflammation and subsequently reduce discomfort.”
-Dr. Stuart Maddin

4. When your blisters have healed and the redness of the sunburn has subsided, moisturize.
“For treating a sunburn, moisturizers are most beneficial as an emollient.”
-Dr. Stuart Maddin

5. In addition to moisturizing, apply a mild topical treatment, like shea butter.
“Moisturizing is important, as the red warm skin is losing a lot of water through evaporation. Using topicals to seal in the epidermal water may be helpful. Therefore, moisturizing with topicals, such as shea butter, can do just this.”
-Dr. Richard Thomas

6. Prevent Future Damage.
“Avoiding sunburns is simple: Always keep skin protected with lots of sunscreen.”
– Dr. Thomas