Burned in the Sun? Tips on How to Treat a Sunburn

Published on August 1st, 2016

Spending too much time in the sun without protecting the skin can lead to a sunburn. Sunburns can cause the skin to become red, sensitive to the touch and blister. A history of sunburns can even lead to skin cancer. To keep discomfort and skin damage to a minimum, it is important to treat a sunburn as soon as possible. The following tips can soothe the sting of a sunburn.

Keep the Skin Cool

Taking a cool bath or shower is a quick way to temporarily relieve the burning and tingling of a sunburn. Leaving the skin slightly damp will allow the air to continue to cool the skin.

Moisturize Sun Burned Skin

Lotions containing soy or aloe vera are soothing and can help trap moisture in the skin to prevent drying.

Apply an Over-the-Counter Cream

Nonprescription hydrocortisone creams can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation from sunburns. It is best to avoid benzocaine or other “caine” products since they can exacerbate skin irritation and cause an allergic reaction.

Take Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

If needed and recommended by a pharmacist or physician, ibuprofen or aspirin can help alleviate pain and reduce swelling.


A sunburn can cause dehydration by drawing fluid to the surface of the skin from the rest of the body. It is important to replace these lost fluids by drinking extra water.

Leave Blisters Alone!

Skin blistering is a sign of a second-degree sunburn. The blisters provide an important barrier against infection while the skin heals, so they should never be popped.

Protect the Sun Burned Skin

It is important to shield the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays when outdoors to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF is the first step in preventing precancerous skin lesions, skin cancer and other forms of sun-related skin damage. Tightly-woven clothing with long sleeves can also serve as a physical barrier against UV rays. For more information on treating sunburns and preventing potentially cancerous skin conditions, consult with your dermatologist.