Because we live in a country where temperatures can drop way below zero during the winter, we’re all the more excited to get outside and soak up the sun once the weather gets warmer—sometimes forgetting how dangerous those UV rays can be! According to a study conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than half of Canadians get at least one sunburn every summer. With the ozone layer getting thinner, we have no choice but to accept our natural skin colour, no matter how pale. It’s crucial to protect your skin before heading outside, but here are a few tips to help you treat sunburn if it’s already too late.
What is sunburn?
Mild sunburn? Soothe it!
As soon as you realize your skin has been burned, it’s very important to treat the affected region to help its regeneration. Apply a wash cloth soaked in cold water on your skin, followed by a light, fragrance-free moisturizer or after-sun lotion that contains aloe vera. Apply a thick layer of it and let it penetrate into your skin. However, avoid very heavy or creamy products, such as petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or butter; these substances trap moisture in, slowing down the healing process, and could even cause your skin to become infected. It’s equally important not to peel off the skin once it starts shedding; this slows down tissue regeneration and prolongs the sunburn.
Wait at least three days before re-exposing your skin to the sun. If you must go outdoors, get the right gear to protect yourself; a cap with a large visor, oversized sunglasses, long trousers and closed shoes (no sandals or flip flops). Forget how you look—at least, you’ll be out of harm’s (and the sun’s) way!
Severe sunburn? Take action!
Severe sunburn is also prone to infection, so before applying any cream or lotion, make sure to wash the area with soap and water. Stay in a cool place and drink lots of water to avoid sunstroke. Before getting dressed, sprinkle on a bit of talcum powder to soothe irritation caused by the friction of fabric against your skin.
To soothe the burning sensation, soak the affected area of your skin in cool (not icy cold) water, or apply a cold, damp washcloth to it for 15 minutes. You can also take ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) tablets to help with the pain. Before going to bed, run a bath and add ½ cup of baking soda, corn starch or oat flower to it; this will help reduce the redness and burn.