You’ve probably been taught from the time you were younger what you should do if you have a sunburn. Apply aloe. Wear loose clothing. Remember your sunscreen next time. (If you don’t wear sunscreen to avoid a sunburn, at least do it to avoid skin cancer.)
But what about warnings for things you shouldn’t do? Your sunburn is already ruining your fun summer day plans. Have a group of friends headed to the beach? Too bad you have to stay home. You were invited to a sunny day picnic? No can do, unless you bring a huge umbrella. Without even realizing it, you might be letting this torture go on for longer than it needs to.
Even simple things, like the food you eat and the clothes you wear, could be messing with your sunburn. Did you know late-night snacking could affect your skin? And even activities that seem benign, like going for a run or scratching a bug bite, could cause a lot of unexpected pain if you’re burnt.
If you spent a little too long in the sun, avoid making these mistakes.
Have you ever tried squeezing on a tight pair of pants when you’re suffering a sunburn? It’s really painful, and ill-advised for a couple of reasons. First, there’s a reason your pants feel tighter today: They are. Your sunburn is likely causing some inflammation. Additionally, the constant rubbing and tension could irritate the area, slowing down the healing process.
Face masks can work wonders on your skin, especially if you make one yourself using all-natural ingredients. However, you might want to wait until your sunburn heals before trying. Some store-bought face masks contain chemicals that could irritate the skin. DIY face masks made with ingredients such as honey could trap heat beneath the skin and increase inflammation.
It’s certainly tempting, but peeling off your skin before it falls off naturally is a really bad idea. Be patient and let it flake off when it’s ready. This benefits the healing process and lowers your risk of getting an infection from bacteria on your hands and fingernails.
We don’t have to tell you this tip twice. Once you make the mistake of trying to scratch the skin that’s sunburnt, you’ll never do it again. It really hurts.
Ouch, that even sounds painful. Not only will taking a hot shower put you through lots of unnecessary pain, but it’ll also dry out your skin and increase the chances that you’ll peel. Take cold or lukewarm showers instead.
Have you been looking for an excuse to take a break from the gym? Here it is. If you sweat a lot or overheat from physical activity, the effects could upset your sunburn. Any inflammation that’s going on could get worse — you might want to go for a calm walk in the shade instead.
Coffee has its health benefits, but if you have a sunburn, make sure you don’t overdo it. Caffeine can contribute to dehydration — not what you want when your skin is trying to heal. Once your burn heals, however, go ahead and grab a piping-hot cup of coffee to cool down in the summer heat. It sounds weird, but it works!
Salty foods — and even foods you wouldn’t think have a ton of salt, but do — can cause you to become dehydrated. Since hydration is key for helping along the healing of your sunburn, counteract this by drinking lots of water when you do eat these foods. But it’s best for your burn (and your blood pressure) to avoid these foods entirely.
Oh, the things people will do for a tan… Some tanning “tricks” are actually really dangerous. Using a sunburn as a base tan is a perfect example. The last thing your skin wants right now is more UV light. Whether you’re using a tanning booth (which is never a good idea) or sitting outside, additional exposure to UV light is going to make your existing sunburn even worse, increasing your risk of long-term skin damage.
If the pool is outdoors, you obviously don’t want to go for a dip when you have a sunburn. The water could wash away some of your sunscreen, exposing your skin to UV light. But even if the pool is inside you might want to wait. Swimming pools are dosed up with chlorine and other drying chemicals.
You know what’s worse than suffering the embarrassment of a visible sunburn? Suffering the physical pain of making your sunburn worse by piling on makeup. You want to let your burn breathe. Plus, the germs from whatever sponge you use to apply your makeup could cause an infection or irritation.
Your usual products could be the best quality around — but most products are designed for regular skin, not sunburnt skin. You could be transferring chemicals to your skin as part of your regular regimen that could irritate your burn. Avoid alcohol-based, scented, and dyed products.
Butter will not help ease your sunburn — that’s an old wives’ tale. And though coconut oil can be good for your skin in other scenarios, avoid smearing it on your sunburn. Both of these fatty substances can suffocate your skin and trap your body heat. This can increase the severity of existing inflammation and slow down the healing process. Once your burn is healed, however, coconut oil (along with these other foods) could be a great food-based remedy for your dry skin.
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