We always hear about what we should slather on and do when we’re sunburned – namely aloe, moisturizers, cold compresses, and over-the-counter pain relievers – but rarely do we hear about what we should avoid. First off it’s important to underline that if you are sunburned it’s imperative that you make sure you’re staying hydrated and that you stay out of the sun! It may seem obvious, but I know I’m not the only one who always sees bright red folks “tanning” on the beach or by the pool.
When you’re sunburned it’s natural that your skin will start to peel – DON’T use a scrub or start peeling in an attempt to “help it along.” The doctor-recommending thing to do is to keep the skin hydrated let it peel/heal on its own. If you have a very bad burn you might see that your skin starts to blister. Again, leave the blisters alone! Never use scrubs. Keep your skin hydrated and let the wounds heal on their own.
I’ve become an expert on the subject because I accidentally applied moisturizer thinking it was an SPF a few years and got horribly burned when I went on a boat for hours (I had two bottles from Neutrogena that looked identical). One of the first things my doctor told me to is to not cover my burn with makeup (I had a wedding that night!) as it can increase the risk for infections or allergic reactions. She then said it’s important that I look at every product I apply to my skin and make sure that it’s formulated without alcohol as alcohol strips away the natural oils in our skin thereby preventing the skin for healing and causing a burning sensation in the process.
Lastly, you’ll want to avoid tight clothes – the burned skin needs to breathe – and, in addition to physical exfoliators, you’ll want to avoid any chemical ones like glycolic or salicylic acid as these too will prevent skin from healing.
Hopefully reading this is enough motivation for anyone to be extra vigilant about slathering on SPF!