Home Skin Care How To Treat A Sunburn

How To Treat A Sunburn

22 min read

Despite all we’re instructed about solar safety, greater than one-third of adults admit to getting sunburned previously 12 months. While the rapid signs of a sunburn are solely short-term, the long-term harm is everlasting and might emerge years later. Read on for our information to caring for sunburned pores and skin – and how one can forestall it from occurring within the first place.

What Causes A Sunburn?

A sunburn is pores and skin harm attributable to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the solar. When your pores and skin is uncovered to UV rays, it releases a pigment referred to as melanin to guard itself. Melanin acts as a pure sunscreen by absorbing the vitality from UV rays and redistributing it. However, it could actually solely present a lot safety – if you’re spending an excessive amount of time within the solar, your tan can shortly turn into a sunburn. 

When you sunburn, your physique produces chemical substances referred to as inflammatory mediators which improve blood circulate within the affected space(s). This motion produces a sunburn’s attribute redness, heat and swelling. While chances are you’ll instantly discover a pink hue and rise in temperature, it takes as much as 24 hours for a sunburn’s full results to set in. In different phrases, don’t be shocked in case your slight burn turns into lobster-like by day two.

UVA Vs. UVB Rays

When it involves UV radiation, there are two kinds of rays that trigger pores and skin harm: UVA and UVB. Here’s how they differ:

UVA Rays

UVA rays account for as much as 95 p.c of the UV radiation that reaches the Earth’s floor. They are present with equal depth all through the day and penetrate the pores and skin extra deeply than UVB rays. This sort of radiation performs a key function in photoaging: It alters the DNA of cells within the dermis, inflicting harm to structural proteins like collagen and elastin. With a weakened construction, the pores and skin begins to sag and develop fantastic strains and wrinkles.

UVB Rays

UVB rays trigger harm within the pores and skin’s extra superficial layers and are chargeable for pores and skin reddening and sunburn. They are additionally extra intently linked with the event of pores and skin most cancers. The depth of UVB rays varies by season, location and time of day. These rays are at peak depth between 10AM and 4PM PST from April to October however have the potential to wreck pores and skin year-round. Unlike UVA rays, they can not go by means of glass and can replicate again in the direction of the pores and skin, hitting it twice – and inflicting extra harm.

Why Are Sunburns Bad?

So, why are sunburns so unhealthy? Aside from their rapid ache and discomfort, sunburns additionally trigger long-lasting harm to the pores and skin. Sunburns contribute to untimely getting old within the type of fantastic strains, wrinkles, sagging pores and skin and solar spots. They additionally play a significant function within the growth of pores and skin most cancers. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the chance for melanoma doubles in case you have had greater than 5 sunburns, and one in 5 Americans will develop pores and skin most cancers by age 70.

Sunburn Severity

Sunburns can vary in severity, from gentle burns that fade shortly to extra extreme burns that may require a visit to the hospital:


Mild sunburns sometimes final between three and 5 days. They are accompanied by redness, tenderness and slight ache. 


Moderate sunburns are usually extra painful and might take as much as two weeks to heal utterly. They are characterised by vibrant redness, swelling, warmth and small blisters.


Severe sunburns require a go to to a physician. These burns are accompanied by crimson to purplish discoloration, giant painful blisters and signs akin to chills, nausea and dehydration.

Symptoms Of Sunburned Skin

The signs of sunburned pores and skin embrace:

  • Redness
  • Pain and/or tenderness
  • Heat
  • Itchiness
  • Swelling
  • Small blisters

If you expertise any of the next signs, it is suggested that you just go to a physician:

  • Fever
  • Faintness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Large, painful blisters

Risk Factors

Everyone reacts in a different way to solar publicity. There are a number of threat elements that may influence your susceptibility to sunburn:

  • A truthful complexion
  • Freckles and/or crimson hair
  • UV publicity between 10AM and 4PM PST
  • High altitudes
  • Proximity to the equator
  • Tanning beds
  • Medications that trigger photosensitivity 

Stages Of A Sunburn

A typical sunburn follows three phases:

Stage 1: First 1-3 Hours

In the primary few hours after solar publicity, your physique reacts by rising blood circulate to the affected space(s). This inflammatory response causes the pores and skin to turn into pink, swollen and heat to the contact. 

Stage 2: First 24 Hours

It takes round 24 hours for the total results of a sunburn to set in. As the pores and skin continues to carry onto warmth and discomfort, redness and ache peak and small blisters could start to pop up on the pores and skin’s floor.

Stage 3: 3-14 Days

The therapeutic course of can final from three days to 2 weeks. During this time, the pores and skin begins to “normalize”: Redness, swelling and ache decline and the pores and skin could turn into itchy because it begins to peel and flake. 

Fun truth: Why does sunburned pores and skin peel? Sun harm accelerates pores and skin cell turnover, shortening the period of time younger cells often should mature and separate. As a end result, they stick collectively like sheets of tissue paper that peel off over the course of therapeutic.

Sunburn Stages Infographic

How To Protect Your Skin

Luckily, there are a number of methods that you could defend your pores and skin earlier than, throughout and after solar publicity.

Before Sun Exposure

Rule quantity one in every of solar safety: Always apply a chemical or bodily sunscreen. But, which one? Equally efficient, they merely differ of their lively substances and the way they defend the pores and skin. Chemical sunscreens are “absorbers” that convert UV rays into warmth earlier than releasing them from the pores and skin. Physical sunscreens create a protecting barrier that blocks and displays UV rays earlier than they make contact with the pores and skin’s floor. No matter which you select, we suggest reaching for a broad-spectrum method that can defend in opposition to each UVA and UVB rays.

What about SPF? SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor” and measures how lengthy your pores and skin will probably be protected against UVB rays (and by extension, sunburn). For prolonged solar publicity, The Skin Cancer Foundation advises an SPF of 30, a protecting issue which filters out 97 p.c of the solar’s UV radiation. Apply at the least one teaspoon of sunscreen for every space of your physique to maintain it sufficiently protected – and don’t skip over simply forgotten areas just like the tops of the ears, the again of the neck and the arms.

During Sun Exposure

Sun care doesn’t cease when you’ve utilized sunscreen. To keep away from solar harm, it’s essential that you just proceed to guard your pores and skin all through the day. Here are a couple of finest practices to remember:

  1. Seek shade between the hours of 10AM and 4PM PST, when UV rays are at their most intense.
  2. Beware reflective surfaces: Water, snow and sand replicate UV rays and improve the chance of sunburn.
  3. Cover up with a wide-brimmed hat, sun shades and sun-protective clothes with UPF (Ultraviolet Protective Factor) 40 or extra.
  4. Reapply sunscreen at the least each two hours, or after 40 minutes should you’re swimming or sweating.
  5. Head indoors on the first signal of sunburn.

After Sun Exposure: What Helps Sunburn?

We’ve all been there: You nod off on the seashore, spend two minutes too lengthy within the solar or neglect to maintain monitor of your sunscreen utility. Moral of the story is, even should you observe the steps above, there’s no assure you’ll finish the day sunburn-free. Here’s what to do while you get a sunburn.

Eminence Organics Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Serum

Stay Hydrated: Inside & Out

Whitney Bowe, MD tells HuffPost: “Bad sunburns cause a process called vasodilation, where your blood vessels dilate and you lose water from your skin very quickly.” To counteract the drying results of a sunburn, you must drink loads of water and cargo up on hydrating vegetables and fruit like cucumber, watermelon and cantaloupe. Topically, you’ll be able to apply a deeply hydrating serum like Eminence Organics Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Serum to replenish dehydrated pores and skin.

Cool Your Skin Down

After a sunburn, it’s necessary to chill your pores and skin down. You can take a cool bathtub or bathe to appease redness and dryness – however skip the cleaning soap, which may irritate scorched pores and skin. If cool water isn’t reducing it, apply a chilly compress to the burn. Pour water and ice right into a bowl, soak a fabric within the liquid and maintain it over the burn. Each of those strategies will assist take up warmth out of your pores and skin and reduce swelling.

Soothe & Repair Red, Dry Skin

Sunburn can go away your pores and skin crimson, dry and uncooked. To restore dryness, attain for moisturizing oils and lotions that embrace soothing substances akin to rosemary, arnica, rosehip and stone crop. And, keep away from merchandise containing petroleum, an ingredient that may lock in warmth and exacerbate your signs. 

Eminence Organics Lead Skin Care Trainer Natalie Pergar recommends pairing our Rosehip & Lemongrass Soothing Hydrator and Rosehip & Lemongrass Repair Balm to alleviate crimson, dry pores and skin. Apply the light-weight hydrator from head to toe, then layer the balm to zero in on areas needing further attention, just like the nostril and cheeks. Both merchandise embrace a Natural Repair Complex derived from rosehip and rosemary which is formulated to restore and defend dry pores and skin that has been uncovered to the weather.

How To Improve The Look Of Sunburn Infographic

Don’t Pick 

Hands off! It could also be tempting, however don’t pull at, decide or exfoliate your sunburned pores and skin. Why? It’s already shedding by itself. As your pores and skin heals, healthy pores and skin cells rise to the floor and the sun-damaged cells naturally flake and peel off. These new cells are delicate and prone to irritation: Picking and prodding will solely make your sunburn look – and really feel – worse. 

Apply A Vitamin C Serum

One of the important thing culprits of untimely getting old is – you guessed it – solar publicity. UV rays promote the manufacturing of free radicals, unstable and extremely reactive molecules that trigger harm to structural proteins like collagen and elastin. Without a secure construction, pores and skin loses the amount, density and bounce related to a youthful complexion.

You can reduce the seen indicators of solar publicity by including a Vitamin C serum to your pores and skin care routine. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps defend cells from free radical harm. It additionally promotes collagen manufacturing within the pores and skin, serving to to attenuate the looks of fantastic strains and wrinkles. Natalie recommends our Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Serum which boosts the advantages of Vitamin C with antioxidant-rich leafy greens like kale, spinach and broccoli sprouts.

Eminence Organics Stone Crop Restorative Body Wrap

Get A Full Body Treatment

If slathering your pores and skin in aloe vera isn’t doing the trick, guide an expert physique therapy at your favourite spa. Many spas provide after-sun providers designed to chill and calm crimson, dry pores and skin. Natalie suggests reserving a therapy that features our Stone Crop Restorative Body Wrap. This wrap accommodates a soothing mix of stone crop, aloe and highly effective actives that hydrate and relieve dryness. 

Tip: When you guide your appointment, make sure to point out that you’re affected by sunburn so your esthetician can customise your therapy accordingly.

Looking for much more tips for sunburned pores and skin? Watch Natalie’s information to minimizing the look of sunburn: 


How do you defend your pores and skin from the solar? Share your ideas with us within the feedback and be a part of the dialog on social media.

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