How to Treat Sun Damaged Skin

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If you’ve ever been to the beach and forgot to bring your sunscreen with you, then you probably know how uncomfortable sunburn could be. Sunburn is characterized by red, painful skin that usually shows up just a few hours after being exposed to too much sunlight. If it happens often enough to your own skin, it can increase your chances of developing more severe skin problems in the future, such as wrinkly skin, dark spots, uneven skin tone, and of course, certain types of skin cancer.

Sun damaged skin can be a real bother to deal with, but there are plenty of ways you can provide treatment to it. There are a lot of remedies that can help alleviate the discomfort you feel when you suffer from sunburn, and many of them you can do at the comfort of your own home. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at sunburn, its effects and the many ways you can treat it.

1. Symptoms of Sunburn

1.1. Pinkness or Redness of Skin

One of the biggest indicators of sun damaged skin is the sudden change of color, more specifically, severe redness. Sunburn shows up as big red patches of skin, particularly in the areas that were exposed to sunlight. The most common areas where the redness forms are the face, the shoulders, and the arms.

1.2. Inflammation and Swelling

Aside from redness, there will also be plenty of swelling in the area. This can make your skin appear puffy or feel a bit tender to the touch. Your sun damaged skin will also feel a bit stretched taut after suffering from sunburn.

1.3. Pain, Tenderness or Itching

Another one of sunburn’s biggest symptoms is severe discomfort in the patches of sun damaged skin. You’ll feel a lot of prickly pain in the earlier stages of it, to the point where it starts getting worse when it makes contact with any sort of surface, including clothes. During the later stages of sunburn, these areas will feel a lot less painful and a lot itchier.

1.4. Blisters

In severe cases of sunburn, your skin may form small liquid-filled blisters that may pop. This is reminiscent of how burns affect the skin. Sunburn at its most basic is just burn damage, just that the source isn’t fire, some hot surface or boiling water, it’s actually the sun.

1.5. Headache, Nausea and Fever

Other symptoms of severe sunburn include headaches, nausea and fever. This collection of symptoms actually mirrors what you’d get if you’ve suffered from heatstroke. Sunburn tends to heat you body up as well, which is why you also suffer from what seems to be a mini heatstroke.

2. What Sunburn Does to Your Skin in the Long-term

2.1. Dark Spots

Because sunburn is the effect of overexposure to sunlight, your skin will try to overcompensate in trying to protect it. This means that if you suffer from sunburn repeatedly, then areas of your skin will develop dark spots. These dark spots are huge concentrations of melanin on your skin. They’re generally harmless, but they wouldn’t do you any favors if you’re planning on keeping your skin tone even.

2.2. Rapid Skin Aging

Because your skin will try to repair sun damaged skin every time you suffer from sunburn, you will end up accelerating its aging process by a lot. This means you will suffer from skin dryness, uneven skin tone, and a lot of wrinkling. Aside from that, you will also have to deal with the symptoms associated with aging skin much earlier than you normally would if you protected your skin from the sun properly.

2.3. Increase Chances of Skin Cancer and Other Skin Diseases

Another major issue you have to deal with when dealing with sunburn is the increased likelihood of suffering from skin diseases. The most problematic of these is skin cancer. Because sun damaged skin has basically spent much of its energy recovering from sunburn, it will have very little left to help prevent the development of skin cancer and other nasties in the future.

As a matter of fact, if you’ve suffered from severe sunburn at least 5 times in your life, then your likelihood of suffering from melanoma actually doubles. This is why it’s important to help your skin by seeking treatment as soon as you see the symptoms of sunburn showing up.

3. How to Treat Sun Damaged Skin

Sunburn is relatively straightforward to provide treatment for. Although the discomfort you feel from sunburn is nothing to sneeze at, it’s actually a lot easier to manage than most people think. The important thing to do when providing treatment is to do it as soon as you start feeling its effects. Better yet, start your treatment as soon as you get home from the beach.

Here are just some of the ways you can do to treat sun damaged skin:

3.1. Cool the Skin

One of the major symptoms of sunburn is when the affected skin starts feeling hot to the touch, as if you’re suffering from localized fever. The best way to treat this particular symptom is by cooling down your skin. You can do this by applying a damp cloth or towel to the area, or by simply taking a cool bath. If you have a water bottle filled with cold water, you can also roll that over your skin.

Applying a cool, damp cloth to your skin will not only help with the heat, it will also help ease up the pain you’ll be feeling, since the coolness will help numb the skin.

3.2. Use Skin Care Products That Help with Sun Damage

Certain skin care products may also be used to help alleviate the symptoms of sun damaged skin. One of the first things you should do aside from cooling your skin off is to rehydrate your skin, so creams and lotions that help with either hydrating your skin or retaining moisture are something you’ll need to prioritize.

Certain moisturizing creams, such as aloe vera gel and other creams that help with burns will work wonders with this. Hydrocortisone cream is also a great way to help with the inflammation and ease the pain or itching you’d get from sunburn.

3.3. Rehydrate

Skin dryness can be a real problem with sun damaged skin and is one of the many reasons why you would feel itchiness during the later stages of sunburn. The best way to deal with this is, as we’ve mentioned before, rehydrating yourself. This can be done by moisturizing your skin or adding more fluid in your diet. Drinking plenty of water helps a lot with this, especially when you add a bit of lemon to a glass of water to further help with rehydrating yourself.

Applying product to help retain your skin’s moisture will also help tremendously at keeping yourself hydrated.

3.4. Wear Proper Clothing

The last thing you’d want to do when you’re suffering from sunburn is to make the problem worse with inappropriate clothes. You’d want to make sure that your skin is no longer exposed to sunlight, since it’s healing, so make sure you wear clothes that cover up as much of your skin as possible.

You should also start wearing loose clothing, since tight clothes can irritate your skin whenever it makes contact with it. Loose clothing can also help your skin breathe better, and help it heal faster.

3.5. Don’t Break Your Blisters

If you’re suffering from blisters because of your sunburn, it’s best to just leave them alone. Breaking these blisters can not only cause scarring, but they can become an access point for bacteria and other microbes that can cause severe infection. The best way to deal with blisters is to simply allow them to run their course. As your skin heals, they will eventually fade in time.

Of course, it’s possible that these blisters might break without you meaning to. If that ever happens, make sure that you keep the area clean as much as possible. Wash the area with cool, clean water and use mild soap. You don’t have to disinfect it if you’ve washed it properly but applying rubbing alcohol or any other mild disinfectant to the area can help lower the chances of infection from happening.

3.6. Don’t Peel the Skin

After a few days of suffering from sunburn, the affected area of your skin will start to peel. This is a sign that your skin is healing up nicely. Despite how satisfying it may be, you shouldn’t peel off the skin once your sunburn starts healing. Peeling your skin prematurely can open up areas of the sun damaged skin that are still not ready to be exposed to the outside air.

You should also avoid using physical scrubs when you’re taking a bath, as this can also expose your healing skin. Instead, you should continue applying treatment to the area like you’ve always had, until the sunburn has cleared up completely.

3.7. Go See a Dermatologist

Sunburns are not a serious health issue, but if you’re concerned with how the healing process is progressing, then it’s never a bad idea to visit the doctor, or a dermatologist. Doctors are qualified to give you treatment that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to at home. They can also help you with information that can either help speed up the healing process or help you deal with any complications that might arise.

Kana Z

Kana Z

I am a writer focussing on beauty, cosmetics, skincare, haircare and body care. I have a special interest in establishing solutions for problem skin. I have being working and studing with some of the world’s top skincare experts, hairstylists, makeup artists, perfume creators, photographers and models. I also currently write for websites of the skincare brand. My Specialties: beauty, journalism, skincare, haircare, cosmetics and problem skin.

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