This article was co-authored by Mohiba Tareen, MD and staff writer, Jennifer Muller, JD. Mohiba Tareen is a board certified dermatologist and founder of Tareen Dermatology located in Roseville, Maplewood and Faribault, Minnesota. Dr. Tareen graduated from medical school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was inducted into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. While a resident in dermatology at Columbia University in New York City, he won the New York Dermatologic Society’s Conrad Stritzler Award and published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Tareen then completed a procedural fellowship which focused on dermatological surgery, laser and cosmetic dermatology.
How To Treat Severe Sunburn On Face
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Sunburn Treatment, Causes And Symptoms
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Sunburn can be painful and embarrassing – especially on your face. However, pain and discomfort are temporary, and most sunburns heal after a week.
However, the damage to your skin can last longer, which is why it is so important to take care of your sunburned skin and treat it properly. Here we’ve put together some of the best tips to treat your sunburned face, from the time you realize you’ve been burned until the symptoms disappear, as well as what you can do to prevent it from happening again.
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Sunburn And Sun Protection
This article was co-authored by Mohiba Tareen, MD and staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD. Mohiba Tareen is a board certified dermatologist and founder of Tareen Dermatology located in Roseville, Maplewood and Faribault, Minnesota. Dr. Tareen graduated from medical school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was inducted into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. While a resident in dermatology at Columbia University in New York City, he won the New York Dermatologic Society’s Conrad Stritzler Award and published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Tareen then completed a procedural fellowship which focused on dermatological surgery, laser and cosmetic dermatology. This article has been read 189,940 times.
The contents of this article are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, testing, diagnosis or treatment. You should always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting, changing or stopping any form of healthcare.
To treat sunburn, splash water on your face or use a cold compress like a towel to cool it down. You can also take ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen to manage inflammation and pain. While you wait for the sunburn to heal, moisturize your skin daily and drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Also, be sure to stay out of the sun as much as possible while you heal, and use sunscreen with SPF 30 or 50 if you have to go out. For more tips from our medical co-authors, including how to prevent sunburn on your face, read on! Some of the best products for treating sunburn at home include moisturizer, aloe vera gel, hydrocortisone cream, and more. Getty Images
Even when we use sunscreen and UPF clothing, sunburns occur—in fact, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, one in three Americans report getting sunburned each year. Sunburn varies in severity from red to blistered skin, but even the mildest can be uncomfortable. To learn how to treat sunburn at home, we talked to dermatologists about which over-the-counter products they recommend and how to know when it’s time to see a doctor.
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Taking into account the recommendations of dermatologists, we have collected over-the-counter products that you can use to treat sunburn at home. Experts told us that staying hydrated is crucial when recovering from a sunburn, so be sure to drink plenty of water (it might encourage you to have the right water bottle). If your sunburn is severe or you feel sick, be sure to see a doctor for additional treatment, such as prescription medication.
All the experts we spoke to recommend using products made from aloe vera, which is known for its cooling, soothing and moisturizing properties. According to the brand, Banana Boat’s Aloe After Sun Gel can be used on the body and face and feels clear on the skin after you rub it in. It is available in 8-ounce and 16-ounce bottles.
If you don’t like the sticky feel of gel, some brands offer lotions and creams formulated with aloe vera. It is better to choose a cream instead of a lotion, says Dr. Mary Stevenson, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor at NYU Langone Health’s Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology. Creams, which are usually sold in a pot, are thicker and more moisturizing than lotions (which are usually sold in a bottle with a pump), he explained.
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This cream from Cetaphil is formulated with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E to moisturize and soothe the skin. It has a non-greasy feel and absorbs quickly as per the label. The cream is also fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores. You can buy cream in 3-ounce, 8-ounce, and 16-ounce containers.
Aside from staying hydrated, the best thing you can do for sunburn is to use a simple, fragrance-free moisturizer, says Dr. Michael Farber. Especially for peeling sunburns, it’s important to help your skin repair itself, and applying moisturizer is one way you can do that.
CeraVes moisturizer contains ceramides to restore and maintain the skin’s barrier, as well as moisturizing hyaluronic acid. The fragrance-free, non-comedogenic cream has a rich texture and can be used on the face and body. You can buy Cerave’s cream in a 19-ounce tub, 16-ounce tub, 16-ounce tub with pump, 12-ounce tub, 8-ounce bottle, or travel-size 1.89-ounce bottle.
Like spray sunscreen, moisturizer is also available as a spray. Since a spray moisturizer is usually much lighter than a tub cream, it’s easy for me to travel with it and keep a bottle in my beach bag in case my fair skin turns pink after a day outdoors.
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Vaseline makes a non-aerosol spray moisturizer with aloe vera that moisturizes and soothes sunburned skin. After rubbing, the spray is quickly absorbed into the skin, leaving it smooth, non-greasy and non-sticky, according to the brand. Vaseline’s Moisturizing Aloe Spray comes in a 6.5-ounce bottle.
Hydrocortisone creams can help soothe itching and irritation, and over-the-counter options are a good place to start when looking for sunburn treatments that target dry, itchy, scaly skin, Farber says.
Cortisone 10 cream is formulated with 1% hydrocortisone to relieve itching and aloe vera to moisturize the skin. The fragrance-free formula comes in a 2-ounce tube.
Cold compresses can relieve inflammation caused by sunburn, Farber says. It is covered with a touch fabric on the outside from Ace, so you can compress directly to the skin without first wrapping it in a towel. Compression is designed to fit the contours of many body parts. It measures 7.75 inches tall and 11.87 inches wide, about the size of printer paper.
Post Sunburn, Here’s How To Treat Peeling Skin
If your sunburn blisters, don’t pop or pick at the skin — it could cause infection or future scarring, experts tell us. Instead, experts recommend trying the following treatments.
If your sunburn is just red and itchy, avoid patches and stick to moisturizer, Farber says. However, if the sunburn worsens and blisters, moist dressings such as hydrocolloid bandages can promote healing. These bandages have a water-resistant seal and can be worn for up to seven days after application and help reduce scarring, according to the brand. You can buy bandages in packs of three, six or 20.
Along with bandages, moist dressings like these burn pads can help soothe and cool the skin, as well as provide a barrier that keeps the area clean and moist, Farber says. Spenco’s 2nd Skin Wet Burn Pads have a high water content, according to the label, and after placing them on your blisters, cover the pad with tape or gauze. You can buy burns in small, medium and large sizes.
Vaseline has sealing properties, meaning they help seal water to a broken skin barrier, Farber says. If the blisters are prone to skin ulcers, you can apply Aquaphor or Vaseline – which is primarily made of petroleum jelly – to the affected areas to prevent secondary skin infection. Along with ointment, you can also buy Vaseline spray and Aquaphor spray.
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A sunburn “is a sign that your skin is exposed to too much UV radiation,” says board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology Dr. Michael C. Cameron.
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