Certain things are supposed to be red; firetrucks, an apple or a delicious steamed lobster. What is not supposed to be red is the tender flesh of those seeking summer solace on sandy beaches. There are those among us who look for that bronzed glow as evidence of good times frolicking in the waves and running on the shore. However, for a lot of us it is unwise to be out without protection. Even with the best protection, said to be spf 45 (it blocks about 98% of UVB rays but none offers 100% protection), one can end up looking like a tomato after a day on the beach not to mention a peeling tomato three days later. As painful sunburn does not top the list of beach side mementos, we offer below some soothing options to soothe sore skin.
First, and this may seem obvious but it bears mentioning, rinse the sun burned area in a cool shower to clean away any irritants such as sand or shell pieces. It will immediately begin to cool your skin and hydrate it from the outside. While bathing, avoid shampoos and soaps that contain dyes or perfumes as they may cause further pain and dryness.
If you are able to take a bath, some of the following suggestions may help with the symptoms of scorched skin.
Mix 1 cup of baking soda to a (plastic) pitcher of water, or two cups baking soda to a bath to aid irritation and redness.
Mix 1 cup of apple cider vinegar into your bath to help restore the natural skin PH.
Soak in an oatmeal bath; this is especially helpful when the skin is peeling and itchy. Be sure to finely grind the oatmeal or it may clog your bath!
Aloe Vera - This plant is known as the 'burn plant' and for good reason; its soothing gel almost instantly hydrates the burn area. There are studies that say the effects of this plant on sunburn are minimal, there are legions of users who swear by its efficacy. One should be careful of using it directly from the plant as any bark could cause more irritation, which would clearly defeat the purpose of the application. If you do not have a aloe vera plant, you can find pure aloe vera gel at health food stores and online. In addition, there are many products that contain it in spray and lotion form.
Apply black tea bags that have been soaked in (cold) water or brewed black tea that has been cooled to the affected area. The tannins are said to pull the heat away from the burn while restoring the natural PH.
Hydrate. Drink lots of water or juices. Sports drinks help, too, as your skin is very dry and replacing that lost body fluid will help your skin heal more quickly.
Some suffering from searing effects of too much sun may benefit from an over the counter anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or naproxen for the inflammation and pain. There are also over the counter hydrocortisone creams or gels as well as lidocaine that may help but are not necessarily recommended for long-term use.
I hope that you do not find yourself in this situation, but if you do, I hope that some of these tips will help you. :)