Despite your best efforts to protect your skin from the sun, your skin still got sunburned! Or maybe you stayed out too long in the sun without sun protection and are looking to heal your skin. Whatever the case, we got you!
Symptoms usually include redness, swollen tender skin, skin that is painful to the touch, peeling, and—in some cases—blisters. These symptoms usually show up between a few hours to a day after sun exposure, although long-term skin damage (such as an increased skin cancer risk) could take years to appear .
How bad is the burn?
Mild: A mild burn is characterised by reddened skin that is painful to the touch, and usually lasts between 3-5 days. Skin peeling can also happen as your skin works on healing and regenerating itself.
Moderate: A moderate sunburn is more painful and the skin will be redder and more swollen. Your skin may also feel hot to the touch. Symptoms of a moderate burn can last for about a week.
Severe: A severe sunburn involves very red, very painful, blistering skin, and may require a visit to the hospital. Symptoms may last for a few weeks.
One of the questions you may be asking yourself right now is how long it takes to recover from a sunburn. Recovery time depends on severity of the burn, but in general for mild to moderate burns, it can take about a week to heal. For more severe burns, expect the healing process to take a few weeks.
Other factors that can increase recovery time include
- Sun exposure during peak sun (between 10am and 4pm when the sun is at it strongest)
- Having lighter skin, freckles, or red hair
- High altitudes
- Being near the equator
- Using photosensitizing medications (drugs that make your skin more sensitive to the sun)
There are a few things you can do to help soothe your skin, reduce pain and redness, and speed up the healing process.
- Avoid touching affected skin and wear loose clothing.
- Take cool baths and showers, but avoid overwashing as this can dry skin further.
- Drink extra water to help rehydrate damaged skin.
- Use a cool compress on affected skin (for mild to moderate burns).
- Do not pick at peeling skin.
- Apply a natural moisturiser to help soothe reddened skin. Aloe vera is a good choice, and you may be interested in our Unitantis Repair Cream to help soothe, nourish, and repair sensitive damaged skin.
Q: Should I shower after a sunburn?
A: It’s ok to shower after a sunburn, but make sure to use cool water with a low pressure to soothe your skin and avoid irritating it further. Avoid overwashing as this can further dry out and irritate your skin. Consider using a gentle moisturiser after showering to help lock in moisture and soothe your skin.
Q: Can I exfoliate after a sunburn?
A: It may be tempting to exfoliate (especially if your sunburned skin starts to peel!), but try to resist the temptation. Exfoliating after a sunburn can further irritate your skin and prolong the healing process . Instead, it’s best to allow any peeling skin to naturally fall off on its own.
Q: Can sunburns cause breakouts?
A: Sunburns can sometimes cause your skin to break out. This is because sunburns dry your skin, which triggers your skin to produce more oil. The excess oil can sometimes lead to breakouts. A gentle moisturiser may help reduce the chance of sunburn-induced breakouts by keeping your skin hydrated during the healing process.
Q: Can sunburns cause swelling around the eyes?
A: Yes; this can happen if the delicate skin around your eyes becomes sunburned. Because the skin around your eyes is extra sensitive, be very gentle with it during the healing process. Cold compresses and gentle moisturisers can help. You can also help your skin heal by wearing sunglasses and a sun hat.
Q: Is it normal to feel sick after getting sunburned?
A: Mild or moderate sunburns shouldn’t make you feel sick, but a severe sunburn can sometimes be accompanied by dehydration, shock, or heat exhaustion. Watch out for the following and call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Feeling nauseated or vomiting
- Extreme thirst or no urine output
- Feeling faint or confused
- Rapid pulse or chills
- Blisters covering a large part of your body, or signs of infected blisters like swelling or pus
For tips on keeping your skin healthy during the summer and avoiding sunburn, check out our article on summer skincare!
Your skin's new best friend.
UNISANTIS creams help nourish, soothe, and protect your skin. Our Repair Cream is especially formulated to care for dry, sensitive, or damaged skin.
Tanning chairs on beach: https://unsplash.com/photos/VPnLLmvmA-k