How to Prevent and Treat a Sunburn

Summer is here and so is the heat

It starts off nice and relaxing, but as you take in the seaside surroundings, your body begins to put up its defenses. Overwhelmed, a toxic reaction occurs, and only a short time later you’re fitting right in with the ocean setting – looking like a lobster and feeling a little crabby.

Unfortunately, sunburns happen to the best of us; luckily, there are a number of ways they can be prevented and treated.


One sure bet to preventing a sunburn is avoiding sun exposure altogether. However, summertime generally calls for more than the occasional outdoor adventure (especially with parks like ours!), so we’ll give you a few more realistic tips.

For starters, from 10 am to 4 pm, the sun produces its strongest rays, so try your best to find a few shady spots to take cover if you’re working in the yard, swimming in the pool, heading to sports events or taking part in other outdoor activities. Keep in mind, you can also calculate the ultraviolet exposure by paying close attention to your shadow – if you’re shadow is longer than you, exposure is low; conversely, if your shadow is shorter than you, exposure is high.

Packing along some easy, light accessories can likewise do the trick when it comes to blocking the sun. A few examples include wide brimmed hats (covering your neck, ears, eyes, and scalp), sunglasses, and clothing with sun protective fabric. All of these items can be easily stowed in a beach tote or purse without any real added weight, but with incredible added value to your skin and health.

Lastly, and most commonly used as a form of prevention is sunscreen. If you must be in the sun for a short amount of time or an extended amount of time, lather up! It may feel like a hassle, but the benefits are well worth it. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use an SPF 30 or higher that is water resistant as well. When applying, use enough to fill a 1 ounce shot glass, adjusting according to the amount of skin exposed, and since skin cancer can form on the lips, don’t forget to apply a lip balm with comparable SPF. Reapply around every two hours or after swimming and sweating.


Once you’re past the point of no return, all you can do is treat the sunburn, so start with a cold, damp towel on your skin. This helps to take out some of the heat from your skin, and can be done for about 10 to 15 minutes daily. Using aloe vera, or a lotion containing aloe vera, is another great way to soothe your sunburnt areas, and drinking plenty of liquids will assist in preventing dehydration, since sunburns dry out what’s beneath the surface. Lastly, remember to take extra care of your sunburnt area, covering the damaged skin from additional exposure, and pay close attention to any side effects (dizziness, weakness, etc) that may need medical attention!

I am a Hockaday alum and graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN, where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications. I am an aspiring writer and journalist, and, as an avid reader, I constantly exercise my imagination and whet my appetite for creativity. I am outgoing and personable, and I look forward to incorporating my innate enthusiasm for creativity into my work!

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