NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you’re like millions of Americans then you’ll be heading to the beach, pool, or park this holiday season.
Even though most of us know better, some of us will end up with a sunburn.
So what can you do to ease the pain?
A sunburn is one of those things that has almost as many home remedies as there are people who suffer burns.
Milk baths, tea bags, vinegar, the list goes on. Some of those work, but there’s also one you might not have thought of.
As always, prevention is far better than a cure when it comes to a sunburn. Since there is no cure, it’s best to apply sunscreen early and often.
Still, some people forget and end up burned. First aid for sunburn is the same as any burn, it’s important to first cool the skin. Cool yogurt does the trick, although a cool shower is a bit more practical.
Others say tea bags or vinegar help because they’re astringent, but they can also dry the skin. It’s something emergency physician Dr. Erick Eiting says is counter-productive.
“I like to make sure that I’m hydrating with a good lotion, you have to make sure you do that every time you have a shower or bath,” Eiting said. “Not over-hydrating so you don’t want to shower more than once a day, just because that can dry out the skin as well.”
Dr. Eiting also likes the age-old remedy of aloe vera.
“A good aloe vera gel, it definitely helps to cool the area,” he said. “I actually like to keep it in the refrigerator so it does make you feel a little more comfortable.”
There’s also a little-known remedy from more conventional mainstream medicine. It’s aspirin, or another NSAID like ibuprofen.
“It can certainly help with pain and can cut down on inflammation,” Dr. Eiting said. “What’s happening when you have sunburn is that your skin is using its immune system to regenerate the skin.”
So when is a sunburn serious enough to go beyond a home remedy?
“If you’re coming out of the sun and you’re noticing blisters on your skin, that suggests that this is something that we call a second degree burn,” Dr. Eiting said. “That’s something that does need a little bit more medical attention.”
A severe sunburn could also be a warning sign or heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. If you’re having severe muscle cramps, feeling confused or lightheaded, or you’ve stopped sweating it’s probably a medical emergency. Make sure to get yourself to an emergency room or urgent care center.