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How Do I Make a Sunburn Feel Better?

Amy Walters/Thinkstock
Amy Walters/Thinkstock

Do you want a savage tan this summer? You certainly don’t want your pale legs to show in those cute shorts. You decide to lay out to soak up some rays. You think that by not putting suntan lotion on, you’ll have a better chance of getting some color.


The only color you’ll get is red. Make sure you use some kind of sunscreen (at least the correct brand of sunscreen) when you’re going to be out in the sun for any length of time.

But, if you forgot to bring your sunscreen or didn’t realize you’d be spending a lot of time in the sun, but you did, it’s possible you’re going to get a nasty sunburn.

I have fair skin and freckles, so I’ve seen my share of sunburns. I stumbled across a great article recently that I wished I would’ve seen back in my college days when I would lay out with just baby oil on my skin. The article was “Sunburn Relief, Treatments and Remedies” from the website Thrilist.

Woman taking a shower
Hoby Finn/Getty Images

Take Cold Showers



As soon as you feel you have a sunburn, jump in a cold shower or bath. You only need to be in there for a few seconds. You can use cold compresses after your shower but never apply ice directly to your sunburned skin


Young woman with lotion in hands
Jupiterimages, Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock




Use a gentle moisturizer while your skin is damp. Do not use petroleum jelly or any oil-based ointments which could trap the heat. Moisturizing will help cool down the burn and will help to prevent peeling. A moisturizer with Aloe is always a good choice.

Shea Butter



Shea butter moisturizes the skin and is packed with nutrients and vitamins to help in healing. The best shea butter products are sustainably sourced from Africa and unrefined.


First aid kit red. Vector illustration on white background

Pain Pills



Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen or aspirin, immediately and repeat every six hours to help reduce the pain and redness. Make sure you eat something before you pop the pills so you don’t get an upset stomach. If your sunburn is really bad, you may want to try a topical steroid like 1% hydrocortisone cream or lotion. Try to find one with aloe.


Young woman is drinking water outdoors

Drink Water



A sunburn dehydrates you. You should drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Improvised Cold Compresses



You can make a cold compress out of many different things in your fridge or freezer like cucumbers, yogurt, or a frozen bag of vegetables.


Summer Sun Face with sunglass and Happy Smile. Vector Illustration

Stay Out of the Sun



This is a no-brainer, but you need to stay out of the sun if you have a sunburn. Avoid the sun while your skin heals.


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