Our doctors have succeeded in raising awareness about the harmful effects of sun overexposure; many people today are aware of skin cancer and other harmful effects of the sun such as pigmentation and premature aging. While we have stepped up our game in protecting our skin, sometimes the accidental sunburn still happens. Here’s how to manage them.
IMMEDIATELY AFTER – Soothe Your Stinging Skin.
1. Cool Compress
After the accident, apply a cold, damp towel to the area quickly for 10 – 15 minutes. This helps remove some heat from the burnt skin. Take a cool shower or bath and moisturize immediately after.
2. Moisturize But Don’t Trap Heat
Peeling is probably inevitable, because your body will now work to get rid of damaged cells that are at risk of becoming cancerous. Programmed cell death, a signaling mechanism in the body which leads to suicide of damaged skin cells occurs. In other words, your body sheds dead skin cells damaged by the sun as a form of protection. Keeping your tender skin moisturized now will help slow the peeling process. Most of us will reach for the good old aloe vera gel in the fridge, but for the first few days, use a bland moisturizer such as Aquaphor after a cool shower immediately, to keep moisture trapped in the skin. After that, try a lotion with aloe vera, which will help repair damage. A lightweight lotion is best, to avoid rubbing of the already irritated skin.
3. Start Anti-Inflammatory Treatments
This is an important step to help reduce redness and swelling. Reducing inflammation quickly will also help mitigate any potential long-term scarring.
Take Ibuprofen to manage pain and reduce the inflammation. The most potent form of healing may be LED red light, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and promote wound healing.
4. Wear protective covering while outdoors
Take good care of your skin while it heals and avoid any direct sun exposure while your skin heals. Apply a physical sunblock generously even after the blisters heal to avoid any further insult to the injury.
AFTER – WHAT TO DO ABOUT HYPERPIGMENTATION
Unfortunately, a sunburn can trigger an overproduction of skin pigments, resulting in hyperpigmentation.
Slow And Steady Wins The Race
Hyperpigmented skin is due to an overproduction of melanin in the skin due to damage caused by sunburn. The normal reaction would be to blast away pesky pigmentation. Means of exfoliation such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels and pigment lasers all address hyperpigmentation but going too strong and hoping it goes away could make it worse instead.
Avoid anti-aging creams which may contain retinol or BHAs/AHAs which may sting the raw and sensitive skin until you are well past the acute stage.
After the area is completely healed, try gentle exfoliation such as a glycolic acid serum every night. SW1 Shop’s Sleep Mode is a gentle but efficient exfoliant, without being abrasive or drying. Next, a laser treatment such as Fraxel Light, a non-ablative fractionated laser gently lightens pigmentation, evening out the skin tone.