We all know the importance of using sunscreen and practicing good “fun in the sun” skin care habits so that we can maintain healthy skin. Once in a while, however, an extended stay outdoors or a lapse in sunscreen application leaves us with sunburn—a burn caused by overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
While it is true that preventing sunburn is the best way to avoid the lasting effects of sun damage and a vulnerability to skin cancer, here are some skin care measures that can help increase your comfort and reduce the harm should you find yourself sporting pink or red skin.
- Seek out vitamin C. Vitamin C is a potent skin protector, thanks to its antioxidant qualities. Not only does it grab up free radicals—those irregular molecules that cause damage to our skin cells—but it is also believed to reverse cellular/skin damage that has already occurred. With vitamin C, you can truly attack the problem from the inside out. Take a vitamin C supplement while nursing your sunburn. Aim for 100 to 250 milligrams per day and choose a buffered vitamin C to avoid stomach upset. In addition, since applying vitamin C topically is up to 20 times more effective than ingesting it, use lotions containing vitamin C to promote cell rejuvenation.
- Eat antioxidant-rich foods. When battling sunburn, boost your body’s defenses by eating superfoods—those antioxidant-packed edibles that increase your capacity to fight against the damage that threatens collagen production, introduces sun spots, and causes fine lines and wrinkles to appear.
- Increase hydration. It is important to stay hydrated after too much sun exposure to avoid heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
- Control discomfort. Cool compresses, soothing lotions, and anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving medication (if your health allows) can help to reduce the discomfort and swelling of sunburn.
- Stay out of the sun. It is very important not to cause further damage to your skin as it is healing. Even sunscreens allow in some ultraviolet light. If you absolutely must be outdoors, the best skin care strategy is to cover your skin with protective clothing and a hat.