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How to Treat Sunburn Fast

How to Treat Sunburn Fast
Shweta Chaubey

5 Key Takeaways

  • Even if it seems nagging, listening to friends who remind us to apply sunscreen is essential. Exposure to the sun's UV rays can lead to painful sunburns, skin redness, and discomfort.
  • UV radiation penetrates skin cells, triggering immune responses like redness and inflammation.
  • Sunburn is more than just a tan; it's a serious skin issue.
  • From applying Aloe Vera to staying hydrated, there are various effective ways to treat sunburn. But remember, not all remedies are equal, so stick to those proven to work. If symptoms worsen or become severe, seek medical help promptly. Protect your skin with high-SPF sunscreen that defends against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Severe sunburn with extensive blistering and pain covering a large area of skin, along with symptoms like headache, warrants immediate medical attention.


How to get rid of sunburn fast?

Treatments How it helps What to remember
Aloe vera Naturally calms and heals the skin Test for allergies before use
Cool water Immediately reduces inflammation Avoid ice-cold water
Over-the-counter creams Contain hydrocortisone for pain relief and swelling Follow package instructions; watch for skin irritation
Hydration Provides extra fluids to the affected area Avoid caffeine and alcohol; watch for dehydration symptoms
Non-prescription pain relievers (NSAIDs) Offers instant pain relief Follow dosage instructions; watch for gastrointestinal issues
Rest Supports the body’s natural recovery Ensure a comfortable sleep environment; aim for 7-9 hours of sleep

Do you have a friend who is always reminding you to put on sunscreen? Although it may seem annoying, they are right to do so. Exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays can cause unpleasant skin problems, such as painful sunburn, redness, and discomfort. In more severe cases, sunburn can even lead to blisters, peeling, and premature aging.

How is sunburn caused?

Ultraviolet rays from the sun can have harmful effects on the skin. When UV radiation penetrates skin cells, it can trigger an immune response, leading to redness, inflammation, and heat. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can also cause DNA mutations, increasing the risk of developing skin cancer. It is important to protect your skin from the sun to avoid these risks, and getting a tan is not worth the potential damage from unprotected sun exposure.

What are the symptoms of sunburn?

Symptoms of sunburn may manifest as:

  • Changes in skin color, varying from pink to red or even purple.
  • Skin feeling hot to the touch.
  • Pain and/or itching sensations.
  • Swelling of the affected area.
  • Formation of fluid-filled blisters, which may itch and eventually rupture.
  • Peeling of broken blisters, revealing tender skin beneath.   

Did you know that over a third of American adults experience sunburn each year? This alarming statistic, mentioned in one of the studies conducted by the National Library of Medicine, emphasizes the need for all of us to take precautions against the harmful effects of UV rays.

Is there a link between sunburn and other skin diseases?

Regular exposure can lead to various skin diseases and cancers, including the most serious type of skin cancer, melanoma. Therefore, it is crucial to take precautionary measures to protect the skin from sunburn. Repeated sunburn can cause long-term damage to the skin, including premature aging, actinic keratosis, cataracts, and immune suppression. In fact, exposure to UV radiation is closely linked to non-melanoma skin cancers and melanomas, which underscores the importance of sun protection.

According to the World Health Organization, skin cancer is one of the most diagnosed cancers globally, with one in three cases being skin cancer. Hence, it is essential to raise awareness about the harmful effects of sun exposure and the importance of taking preventative measures to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.

How to treat sunburn?

There are many ideas about how to treat sunburns, but unfortunately, many are myths. Some people suggest using things like butter, shortening, vinegar, or numbing sprays to get rid of sunburns, but these things don't help and can sometimes make things worse. It's important to stick with treatments that are proven to work and not just believe any old advice you hear. Here is what many experts suggest for sunburn relief.

  1. Aloe Vera

    This natural remedy is known to have strong anti-inflammatory properties and has been proven to promote skin healing. To make the most of it, apply the gel directly to the affected area, taking care to avoid contact with any other unaffected areas. However, as with any natural remedy, it's important to be cautious of potential allergic reactions which may occur. Therefore, it is best to perform a patch test on a small area of skin before applying the gel to the affected area. If you experience any discomfort or irritation, discontinue use immediately and consult a medical professional.

  2. Cool Water

    There are several ways to soothe sunburned skin, one of which is to soak the affected area in cool water for about 10 to 15 minutes. This helps to reduce inflammation and provides quick relief from the discomfort caused by sunburn. Another way is to apply a damp cloth to the affected area, which can also help to reduce inflammation and provide a cooling effect on the skin. It is important to avoid using hot water or ice as these can irritate the skin further and worsen the condition. Additionally, applying moisturizers or aloe vera gel to the affected area can help to keep the skin hydrated and promote healing.

  3. Over-the-counter creams

    These creams usually contain ingredients such as aloe vera, hydrocortisone, or lidocaine. Aloe vera is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that can soothe sunburned skin and reduce redness. Hydrocortisone is a steroid that can reduce inflammation and swelling caused by sunburn. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that can numb the affected skin area and provide temporary relief from pain. However, it is important to follow the instructions carefully when using these creams to avoid adverse reactions. Some people may be allergic to certain ingredients or may have underlying medical conditions that can interact with the cream. If you experience any adverse reactions or if your sunburn is severe, it is recommended to seek medical attention.

  4. Hydration

    It is essential to replenish the fluids lost from sun exposure, especially during hot weather. Dehydration can lead to various health issues, including fatigue, headaches, and even heat exhaustion. So, it is recommended to drink plenty of fluids such as water, sports drinks, or coconut water to keep your body hydrated and maintain its balance. However, it is crucial to avoid beverages containing caffeine and alcohol, as they can worsen dehydration. These drinks act as diuretics, which means they can cause your body to lose more fluids, leading to further dehydration. Therefore, it is best to stick to non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks to keep your body hydrated and healthy.

  5. Non-prescription pain relievers

    Sunburn is a common skin problem that can cause discomfort, inflammation, and pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can be helpful in reducing these symptoms. However, it is essential to use them carefully and according to the instructions provided on the package to avoid any risks. Overuse of NSAIDs can cause side effects such as stomach upset, bleeding, and kidney problems. Also, if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking any other medications, it's best to consult your doctor before using NSAIDs for sunburn relief. Overall, while NSAIDs can be useful in managing sunburn, it's crucial to use them wisely and in moderation to minimize potential risks.

  6. Rest

    Getting enough sleep is crucial for the body's natural healing process as it helps repair and rejuvenate tissues and organs. For adequate sleep, create a comfortable sleeping environment that is conducive to rest. This includes a cool and dark room, comfortable bedding, and minimal noise and distractions. Furthermore, it's recommended to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, as this is the optimal amount of rest needed for most adults to function at their best during the day. By prioritizing a good night's sleep, you can improve your physical and mental well-being, boost your productivity and concentration, and lower your risk of developing chronic health conditions.

What to do with peeling sunburnt skin?

Unfortunately, no cream or lotion can prevent sunburnt skin from peeling. It's a natural part of the healing process. Here's what to do when your skin starts to peel:

  • It is recommended that you avoid picking at the peeling skin. The ideal approach is to allow it to come off naturally.
  • If the skin has already detached, it should be gently removed with caution. Avoid tearing it off, as doing so may cause additional skin damage.
  • Once the skin is removed, antiseptic cream should be applied to the exposed skin to minimize the likelihood of infection.

How to prevent skin rashes from sunburn?

Protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays is crucial for your health. Use sunscreen with a high SPF that defends against both UVA and UVB rays. Remember to apply it regularly and generously to ensure maximum effectiveness. Only a few minutes in the sun can cause irreversible damage, so prioritize your skin's well-being and keep it safe from the sun.

Our best sun protection moisturizers

When to seek medical help for sunburn?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, it's important to see a doctor or go to the nearest hospital emergency department:

  • Severe sunburn with extensive blistering and pain
  • Sunburn covers a large area of skin
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Dizziness or altered states of consciousness



Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Shweta Chaubey

Shweta Chaubey

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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...

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