How to Soothe a Sunburn

by Melissa Caravella Health Writer

Don’t delay

Your skin can burn if it gets too much sun without proper protection from sunscreen and clothes. To help heal and soothe sunburned skin, time is of the essence. Move indoors as soon as possible and follow these tips from the American Academy of Dermatology to find relief.

Cool your skin

Apply a damp towel for 10 to 15 minutes on the affected area. Cool baths or showers may also help. Apply a moisturizer with aloe vera while your skin is still damp to keep skin hydrated. And drink lots of water.

Avoid these products

Don't use products containing petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine. Petroleum traps heat in the skin. Benzocaine and lidocaine can irritate the skin and produce an allergic reaction similar to that produced by poison oak.

Take a pain reliever

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help ease the pain. Those over-the-counter medicines can help relieve swelling, redness, and discomfort.

Leave blisters alone

Popping a blister caused by a sunburn might seem like a good idea, but it actually will make things worse and increase the risk of infection.

Protect your skin

Be sure to cover sunburned skin with loose clothing if you’ll be outdoors while you’re healing.

Watch out for other symptoms

If you develop a fever or feel dizzy, weak, nauseous, or cold, call your doctor right away.

Melissa Caravella
Meet Our Writer
Melissa Caravella

Melissa Caravella is a New Jersey-based health writer and content strategist. She has spent more than a dozen years writing and editing health content for consumers, with a focus on translating complex medical information into understandable and actionable knowledge.