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How can I care for sunburn at home?

Aloe vera gel or lotion is great for treating sunburn. Cool compresses, ibuprofen and antihistamines can also be used if aloe vera is not providing enough relief. Keeping well hydrated is very important as well. If you develop blisters or a fever you should seek medical attention.

In the absence of the fever, blisters, dizziness and visual difficulties, home treatment is appropriate for sunburn. To treat sunburn at home, try any of the following:

  • Apply cool compresses to the burned area to help cool the skin. Dip towels or washcloths into cool water to make a compress and gently apply it to the sunburned area.
  • Soaking in a cool bath often helps relieve the pain of sunburn. Add one-half cup of baking soda to a full tub of bathwater, or use an over-the-counter bath product. Avoid products that leave your skin oily.
  • Drink plenty of water, especially after participating in sporting or other strenuous activities.
  • Rest in a cool, quiet room.
  • For adults, age 20 and over, take acetaminophen or aspirin to relieve the pain. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for dosages. Do not give aspirin to persons under the age of 20; it can cause a rare but serious problem known as Reye's syndrome. However, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, as directed, are safe.
  • Wear light-colored, natural fiber and loose-fitting clothes to allow your skin to breathe as much as possible.
  • Avoid more exposure to the sun. Wear a wide- brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants and wear sunscreen.
  • Avoid products containing benzocaine. Though benzocaine will numb the skin, it can irritate the skin and delay healing of sun-damaged skin by triggering an allergic reaction.
  • Nothing can prevent peeling after sunburn. Lotions, however, can help relieve itching.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.