Summer Shape-up

Too much fun in the sun? How to heal

May 29, 2012 at 8:36 AM ET

By Amy Paturel

SELF

We all know the drill: Use sunscreen to avoid sunburn -- and reapply frequently. But sometimes, we just forget. Or we fall asleep in the sun. Or we get caught up in a killer game of beach volleyball.

For serious burns (i.e. blistering red skin), get to the doc STAT. But to get through the first 24 hours of a mild sunburn (read: no blisters) that stings and causes discomfort, we asked Skin Cancer Foundation spokeswoman Francesca Fusco for a few tips:

1.  Got milk? Make cold milk compresses by soaking a clean cloth in a bowl with equal parts milk, ice cubes and water. Then hold the cloth on the burned area for five minutes. Repeat three times. The fat, protein and pH of milk have a soothing anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. What's more, cold temperatures constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling.

2.  Take a pill! Aspirin acts as an anti-inflammatory, suppressing chemicals in the skin that cause redness and swelling.

3.  Follow the light. LED treatments use gentle wave light technology to help decrease inflammatory cells. The only drawback: you have to visit the doc's office for treatments -- and that can be pricey (or at least more pricey than Noxema or aloe gel).

4.  Slather on refrigerated aloe gel. Aloe is a botanical that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Store it in the fridge and you'll get the added bonus of cold temps (and reduced swelling).

5.  Rehydrate! After a weekend in the sun, water is key -- particularly if you're sunburned. Liquids are critical to rehydrating your body and replenishing lost fluids from the sun. Hate water? Try guzzling decaf iced tea with mint for an added antioxidant punch.

More from SELF magazine:

More from TODAY Health's Summer Shape-Up series:

TOP