How To Treat Sunburns, According To Experts


We tell ourselves every summer that we won’t overstay our welcome in the sun…but then we do. Cut to us sporting the lobster look and sitting out on beach days with the crew. Fortunately, our Rolodex is full of industry experts that can guide us through the inevitable overdose of rays that happens to the best of us. Read on for ways to treat and soothe the worst of burns.


Damage Control

Bottoms Up

Sunburn draws fluids to the surface of the skin, and away from the rest of the body, so it's vital to "drink plenty of water post-sun exposure to heal the burn from the inside," comments Dr. Marie Hayag, Dermatologist with Concierge Key Health. To further hydration, Dr. Robb Akridge, co-founder of Clarisonic recommends, “eating fruits that have a high-water concentration” like watermelon, strawberries and grapefruits.

Stop Swelling

You can also soothe sunburn and the pain it causes by taking "a non-steroid Ibuprofen or aspirin," confirms Dr. Hayag. Doing this will reduce inflammation, swelling and redness. Dermatologist and Epionce founder, Dr. Carl Thornfeldt further explains that, “aspirin is a potent anti-inflammatory that is more effective than over-the-counter cortisone creams.”

Scalp Treatment

Your scalp—particularly where you part your hair—is always facing upward toward the sun, so it is at a greater risk for getting burned. NYC Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD notes that, when showering post-beach day, "be careful when shampooing your hair, not to over scrub, as it can irritate the scalp further. After the shower, apply a moisturizing ointment like CeraVe Healing Ointment to create a protective seal over the skin."

Face Time

When you suspect, your face might be burned, it's time to seek shade or head indoors immediately to avoid further damage. When it comes to washing the face, "avoid scrubs and exfoliating products and stick to gentle hydrating face cleansers like Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, which leaves behind a hydrating film over the skin," says Dr. Zeichner. This will nourish the skin and start the repair process right away.

Hydrate Light

We know, it's tempting to grab your thickest salve and layer it all over your body but, "it's important to properly hydrate and protect the skin as quickly as possible to minimize the amount of damage caused by the sun, so look for a lotion that won’t way down the skin and trap heat," states Dr. Zeichner. Two of the best sunburn soothers are aloe vera and coconut oil because of their moisturizing properties, which help alleviate the dryness and itching," comments Dr. Akridge.

Body Blunder

"When you get home from the beach, one of the first things that people do is a shower to remove oil, sweat, leftover sunscreen and sand from the skin," which is fine as long as the water is cool," shares Dr.Zeichner. Overexposed skin is already highly irritated so hot showers and acid-based products will make your skin extra sensitive and can even cause blistering and itchiness. Avoid using toners, prescription topicals and retinol products and opt for, "a gentle skin cleanser to calm and rehydrate the skin while you wash," says Dr. Zeichner.