There’s no weekend like Fourth of July weekend to get the absolute worst sunburn ever. A sunburn so bad, that the next week is spent avoiding pats on the back, sleeping above the sheets and begging for mercy before hopping in the shower.
But it doesn’t have to be this way—we swear.
Armed with the right creams and a couple of dermatologist-approved home remedies, you can soothe even the worst burn—like, a really red burn.
Why It’s A Drag: First off, the sun’s dangerous rays have a knack for reaching your tender skin in the car, through your clothes and even in the shade.
Secondly, severe sunburns can cause swelling, blisters and, thanks to dehydration, even flu-like symptoms—i.e., fever, chills and nausea—on top of the dreadful burning sensation.
Finally, what a sunburn does to your skin on a molecular level is a lot worse than your light pink complexion makes it out to be. “Extended exposure to UVB rays causes the DNA within your cells to mutate,” explains dermatologist Anthony M. Rossi. “Which turns the cells themselves completely necrotic.” Put simply, a sunburn is a full-on cell massacre. Which is to blame for those awful post-burn days of peeling and itchiness as your body attempts to rid itself of the sun-damaged cells.
Who Suffers Most: “Believe it or not, all skin types—from light to dark—are born with the same number of melanocytes, the cells that create melanin,” Rossi says. “The people who produce less melanin—which protects your DNA like a tiny sun hat—from sun exposure throughout their lifetime, and in turn maintain paler skin, burn more easily.” Or rather, the lighter you are, the quicker you burn.
Make it Go Away: As your dermatologist (and ours) has always said, the best way to treat a sunburn is prevention—e.g., wear a hat and apply broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every two hours spent under the sun.
But, as you know, sunburns do happen from time to time. Which is why Rossi also provided us with a few home remedies to help you soothe that burn:
(1) Stay hydrated. “Sunburns compromise your skin barrier, which results in a ton of water loss,” Rossi explains. “Drinking plenty of water will not only keep you from getting the chills, but it will cool off your skin, too.”
(2) Pop a pill. “Taking an Advil or a Motrin will keep the inflammation down and help to relieve any discomfort,” Rossi says.
(3) Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. “I always tell my patients to stick a thick moisturizer in the fridge before applying it to their sunburn,” says Rossi. “The coolness helps to ease the burn and the moisture keeps the peeling to a minimum. If it contains aloe vera, that’s just a cherry on top.”