10 Things NOT to Do After Getting a Sunburn
You didn’t mean to get sunburnt, but now the damage is done. Avoid these mistakes that will make it even worse.
Wearing tight clothes
After you get a sunburn, you need to let your skin breathe. “Wearing tight clothing over sunburnt skin is an absolute no-no, because inflammation is setting in,” says Dr. Shereene Idriss, Cosmetic Dermatologist. “Your body is trying to respond to the trauma by increasing blood flow to the area to help with healing. This results in redness, warmth, and inflammation to the area.” Wearing tight clothes could amplify the response, which could lead to more intense swelling and blisters. Or you can avoid sunburns altogether and use the best sunscreen for your skin type.
Using scented aloe
Aloe has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for your skin after you get a sunburn. However, using a scented aloe can irritate skin even more. Stick to using fragrance free aloe or use aloe directly from an aloe plant. But the most beneficial treatment of all is to avoid sunburn in the first place. Watch out for these strange ways you can get sunburnt, even when you have sunscreen on.
Forgetting to hydrateHalfpoint/Shutterstock
Always remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It might seem like a challenge to get in the daily-recommended amount of water, but there are actually 7 easy ways to stay hydrated. “Burns do more to your body than just cause pain. In fact, all burns draw fluid towards the skin and away from the rest of the body,” says Dr. Keith LeBlanc, Jr., dermatologist and founder of The Skin Surgery Centre. “So be sure to drink extra water, juice, and sports drinks for a couple days and keep an eye out for any signs of dehydration.”
Covering it up with makeupphadungsak-sawasdee/Shutterstock
Even though your sunburn might look really bad, avoid covering it up with makeup. The only way the burn will heal is if you let your skin breathe. “Introducing various make-ups through dirty sponges or brushes will only increase your risk for infection or allergic reaction, which will ultimately make it all uglier,” says Dr. Idriss. “For now, embrace the burn, treat it well, but next time learn to avoid getting there in the first place!” Make sure you know these 8 things that dermatologists do each summer for healthy skin.
Peeling or scratching your skinMyibean/Shutterstock
When your skin starts to peel it means it’s starting to heal and it’s important that you don’t mess with that process. “Let the flaking skin fall off naturally,” says Dr. LeBlanc. “Even better, generously moisturize your skin with the product of your choice. This will improve the appearance of the sunburn and help the skin to exfoliate naturally and evenly.” Try these 11 unexpected ways that you can heal your sunburn.
Popping your blistersSunyawitPhoto/Shutterstock
Similar to not peeling your skin, you should never pop blisters. That extra bubble of skin serves a very important purpose in protecting the wound. If a blister hurts really badly, apply a cream-based unscented aloe vera. Memorize these 8 sunscreen dos and don’ts before you hit the beach!
Using exfoliating products, or ones that contain glycolic acid, retinoid, or salicylic acid is extremely damaging to your skin, especially when it’s in a vulnerable sunburnt state. Once your skin has stopped peeling, wait around three days before using any of these products. And beware of these silent signs that you sunburn is actually sun poisoning.
Using alcohol based creamsAfrica-Studio/Shutterstock
Make sure that when you apply cream or aloe to your sunburn that it’s not alcohol based. That would end do more harm than good. “Alcohol is known to strip away the natural oils in our skin. When applied over a healing burn, alcohol will decrease your skins’ ability to heal itself,” says Dr. Idriss. Don’t believe these sunscreen myths that make dermatologists cringe.
Not taking anti-inflammatories right awaygoir/Shutterstock
Your body’s response to being sunburnt is inflammation, and it’s important that you take something to reduce that inflammation the minute you see signs of sunburn. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or aspirin help reduce inflammation and pain. Sunburns generally take about 4-6 hours to develop and if you wait that long to medicate, the medication won’t be as effective.
Using a chemical based sunscreenverona-studio/Shutterstock
Obviously you want to avoid spending time in direct sunlight after you get burned, but if you do have to go out, make sure you apply sunscreen —and keep reapplying for as long as you are outside. A mistake a lot of people make is using a chemical-based sunscreen. Putting chemicals on burnt skin can be irritating. Choose a sunscreen with an ingredients list showing a high concentration of zinc oxide (around 9% or 10%), which will be soothing to the skin. And whatever you do, don’t fall for these 7 sunscreen mistakes.