There’s no cure for sunburn, but there are ways to minimize the misery.
The July issue of ShopSmart magazine, from Consumer Reports, highlights effective treatments that can help heal after a sunburn and identifies products to avoid when scorched by the sun.
“Don't get burned twice,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor in chief of ShopSmart. “Some sunburn products may do more harm than good.”
To help prevent sunburns, which can lead to skin damage, premature aging and skin cancers, ShopSmart recommends applying sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before heading outside and reapplying it at least every two hours while outdoors. Because using sunscreen isn’t enough, wear protective clothing, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed, tightly-woven hat if possible.
For those who find themselves suffering from a sunburn despite best efforts, the secret to relief is to treat it quickly from the inside and the outside. ShopSmart has identified remedies that can provide comfort from a sunburn and those that aren’t worth trying:
What to try
Food and water. Drink extra water, especially when in the sun. Bodies work hard to cool skin, so staying hydrated can help. And eating fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants may help prevent cell damage caused by the sun.
Painkillers. Anti-inflammatory pain medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin can help ease the pain and discomfort that can be caused by a sunburn.
Hydrocortisone cream. If a sunburn is causing itchiness, an over-the counter cream can help.
Lotion. Don’t waste money on a special after-sun lotion. A light moisturizer or aloe vera can minimize peeling and flaking.
What to Skip
After-sun sprays. Pain-relief sprays offer instant relief, but most contain benzocaine or another anesthetic that can make things worse for those who are allergic.
Vaseline. Applying Vaseline or other petroleum jelly products right after getting too much sun won’t help in cooling down.
Noxzema. Applying more than a thin layer of Noxzema to soothe a sunburn probably won’t help. Even the manufacturer does not recommend the use of its products for sunburn relief because they haven’t been tested for that purpose.
Vitamin creams and oils. Don’t waste money on pricey lotions and potions that contain antioxidants – incorporate them into a diet instead. And don’t puncture vitamin E capsules to spread the oil on a sunburn, since it can inflame sore skin on those who are allergic and may not help anyway.
The July issue of ShopSmart, on newsstands now, also features a list of the best and worst sunscreens.