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wikiHow to Treat Sunburn on the Face

Three Methods:Treating a Sunburnt Face Right AwayCaring for a Sunburnt Face as it HealsPreventing Sunburns on Your Face

Sunburns are painful. Worse yet, sun damage caused during childhood can lead to the development of skin cancer later in life.[1] Since the skin on your face is especially vulnerable and delicate, it is important to know how to treat and prevent a sunburnt face. Read on to learn more about how to detect, treat, and prevent a sunburn on your face.

Method 1
Treating a Sunburnt Face Right Away

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    Get out of the sun. As soon as you notice that your skin feels tingly or looks a bit pink, you should go indoors or at least get into the shade. It can take 4-6 hours after you get out of the sun for sunburn symptoms to appear. However, if you get out of the sun right away, you may be able to avoid a more severe sunburn. [2]
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    Drink water. As soon as you notice symptoms of a sunburn, begin drinking water to rehydrate your skin. Sunburns cause your blood to become dehydrated and you may experience fatigue. You can help prevent the after effects by staying well hydrated. [3][4]
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    Splash cool water on your face. If you face feels hot from a sunburn, you can cool it off by periodically splashing it with cool water and then gently pat it dry with a soft towel. You can also place a cold, wet washcloth over your forehead or hold it against your cheeks to help dissipate the heat. [5]
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    Apply aloe or moisturizer to your face. Do not use any moisturizers that contain petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine. Instead, use pure aloe vera or a moisturizer that contains soy or aloe vera. If your skin feels particularly irritated or swollen, you can also use an over the counter topical steroid cream (1% hydrocortisone cream). Carefully read and follow the instructions on any over the counter medications that you use.[6][7][8][9]
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    Take an ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen. Taking an over the counter painkiller as soon as you notice that you have a sunburn can help prevent the pain on your face before it starts. Read and follow the dosage instructions on the packaging carefully. [10][11]
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    Inspect your skin. Once the sunburn’s effects have become noticeable, look closely at your skin to check the severity of your sunburn. If you experience nausea, chills, vision problems, or a fever, see your doctor as soon as possible. [12][13][14]

Method 2
Caring for a Sunburnt Face as it Heals

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    Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to rehydrate your skin after a sunburn. Sunburns cause your blood to become dehydrated and you may experience fatigue. You can help prevent the after effects by staying well hydrated. [15]
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    Moisturize often. Your skin will need to be moisturized frequently after a sunburn. Do not use any moisturizers that contain petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine. Instead, use pure aloe vera or a moisturizer that contains soy or aloe vera. If your skin feels particularly irritated or swollen, you can also use an over the counter topical steroid cream (1% hydrocortisone cream). [16][17][18][19]
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    Don’t pick at blisters or peeling skin. Picking at blisters and peeling skin can cause permanent scarring of your skin. If you notice any blisters or peeling, leave them alone and allow them to go away on their own. [20][21]
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    Avoid the sun until your sunburn symptoms subside. If you must spend time outside, make sure that you are wearing an SPF 30 or 50 sunscreen and take advantage of any shady spaces that you can find. [22]
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    Try a home remedy. There are lots of different household items that you can use to treat your sunburn naturally. Try one of these remedies to complement your other sunburn care techniques.
    • Sponge lukewarm chamomile or mint tea on your face. Brew a cup of chamomile tea and let it cool down to room temperature. Dip cotton balls in the chamomile tea and dab the tea onto your face. [23][24]
    • Make a milk compress. Soak some gauze or a washcloth in cold milk and ring it out. Apply the cloth to your face. The milk will create a protective layer on your skin that will help to cool and heal your skin. [25][26]
    • Make a potato paste to apply to your face. Cut up and blend a raw potato, then dip cotton balls in the pureed potato until they are soaked in the liquid. Dab your face with the soaked cotton balls [27]
    • Make a cucumber mask. Peel and puree a cucumber, then apply some of the mixture to your face like a mask. The cucumber paste will help dissipate the heat in your skin.[28]

Method 3
Preventing Sunburns on Your Face

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    Use sunscreen every day. Protect your face and the rest of your exposed skin by always wearing an SPF 30 or 50 sunscreen while you are outside. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before exposure and reapply once every 90 minutes. If you will be swimming or sweating, use a waterproof sunscreen. [29]
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    Wear a hat while you are outside. A hat that has a wide brim (4 in.) will help protect your scalp, ears, and neck from sunburn. [30]
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    Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses that have UV protection qualities will help prevent sun damage around your eyes. [31]
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    Don’t forget about your lips! Your lips can get sunburned too, so always wear lip balm that has an SPF rating of at least 30. [32]
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    Limit your time in the sun. If possible, limit your time outside during the hours between 10am and 4pm since sun exposure during this time is more likely to cause a sunburn. [33]
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    Check your skin often. Monitor your skin while you are outside. If you notice that it is tingling or looking a bit pink, you probably have a sunburn and should get out of the sun right away. [34]
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    Don’t trust an umbrella alone to protect your skin. Although an umbrella can help to reduce your direct sun exposure, sand reflects sunlight toward your skin so it is important to use sunscreen even if you are under an umbrella. [35]

Tips

  • Keep in mind that it is easier to prevent a sunburn than it is to treat one, so always take precautions to prevent sunburn when you will be spending time outdoors. [36]
  • Although you can wear makeup to cover up your sunburn, you may want to avoid wearing makeup (foundation, powder, blush) until your sunburn has healed completely, especially if your sunburn is severe. [37]
  • Anyone can get a sunburn, but children and fair skinned adults should take extra precautions (sunscreen, hat, clothing, etc.) because they are more susceptible to sunburns. [38]

Warnings

  • Seek medical attention immediately if you experience nausea, dizziness, headache, fever and chills, facial swelling, or severe pain. You may have sun poisoning. [39]

Sources and Citations

  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003227.htm
  2. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sunburn/five-ways-to-treat-a-sunburn
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/17/sunburn-treatment_n_5679751.html
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Article Info

Categories: Stings Bites and Burns