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FYI: Here's the RIGHT Way to Get Rid of a Sunburn

Good Housekeeping logo Good Housekeeping 4/16/2019 Caroline Picard
a piece of cake sitting on top of a wooden cutting board: Plenty of home remedies can help promote healing and reduce discomfort caused by sunburns. Here's how you can make redness go away all the faster. © Getty Images Plenty of home remedies can help promote healing and reduce discomfort caused by sunburns. Here's how you can make redness go away all the faster.

We get it: Everyone can be a little careless with the SPF from time to time, yet no one wants to walk around with a bright-red sunburn, peeling skin, or icky-looking blisters. Those awkward tan lines alone provide enough incentive to reduce inflammation ASAP.

The bad news: While the color may eventually fade, a sunburn causes lasting damage that's impossible to "get rid" of. Repeated exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun's rays increases your risk of skin cancer, not to mention premature aging, the Mayo Clinic states. Even one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double a person's chance of developing melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

The good news: Plenty of home remedies can help promote healing and reduce discomfort in the short term. Here's how you can make that redness go away faster, plus some of top-tested sunscreens from the Good Housekeeping Institute that will save your skin the next time around.

1. Take a cool bath or shower.

Keep the temp low and then lather on moisturizer as soon as you get out, the AAD advises. The cool H20 may help relieve the pain and reduce inflammation, and the lotion will help trap moisture in and ease dryness.

2. Apply aloe.

There's a reason why it's the go-to after-sun product. Pure aloe vera gel - whether out of a bottle or straight from the plant - contains cooling and soothing properties. It can also potentially promote wound healing, according to the Mayo Clinic.

3. Use an ice pack or compress.

Wrap ice in a cloth before applying it directly to your skin, or soak a washcloth in cold water or milk and place that on the burn. The vitamins and antioxidants in milk can help your skin heal, says dermatologist Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D., medical director of Mudgil Dermatology in Manhattan and Long Island, New York.

4. Drink lots of water.

A sunburn draws fluid to the skin and away from the rest of the body, according to the AAD. Rehydrate by downing plenty of H20. (That doesn't include margaritas though; alcohol can make the problem worse.)

5. Don't pop any blisters.

Severe and widespread blisters require a doctor's attention, but if you get a few, leave 'em be. Opening them up makes them vulnerable to infection, the AAD says. If they pop naturally, the Mayo Clinic advises cleaning the open wound with mild soap and water and covering it with antibiotic ointment and a bandage.

6. Protect against further damage.

If you need to go outside again, wear clothing that covers your skin and stay in the shade. Don't forget to apply lots of sunscreen as well - at least a shot glass-full for the body, a nickel-size dollop for the face, says GH Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D.

7. Try over-the-counter medications.

The pharmacy aisles can also help with the healing process, if you reach for the right stuff:

  • Take aspirin or ibuprofen: An OTC pain reliever like Advil can help reduce swelling and discomfort, the AAD says.
  • Rub on a hydrocortisone cream: A mild topical steroid like Cortizone-10 may speed up healing, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Don't apply "-caine" products: Topical anesthetics like benzocaine may further irritate the skin and even trap heat in. No good.

While you're letting your aloe soak in, shop these favorite sunscreens and stash a bottle in your beach bag, car, purse, and other key spots. Then don't forget to apply a lot of it, often!

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