Too long in the sun and a hot, red face got you Googling “How to treat sunburn?” We share our go-to tips for treating sunburn including lip sunburn, blisters, and itchiness.
How does sunburn damage the skin?
Whether it’s mild and rosy or red and angry, all sunburn is a sign of cellular damage.
A sunburn is an inflammatory reaction to the sun’s ultraviolet light which leads to swelling, inflammation and dilated blood vessels, causing your skin to turn red.
Sunburn wreaks havoc on the cells in the top layer of the ski and, in extreme cases you can even develop blisters.
Sunburn has a profound effect on the long term health of your skin. While the red surface of the sunburn will heal quite quickly, the damage caused to the skin can be long lasting.
Accelerates the visible signs of ageing
UV rays speed up the signs of ageing faster than any other environmental factors. In fact, sun damage is responsible for a staggering 90% of the signs of premature ageing - fine lines, sagging, brown spots, and wrinkles. The sun emits two types of rays that damage the skin; UVA and UVB.
UVA rays can reach deeper into the skin tissue than UVB and are responsible for premature signs of wrinkles, sagging and dark spots. Penetrating deep into the skin’s second layer (the dermis) UVA causes damage to the elastin and collagen that gives the skin its structure and firmness. UVB rays, on the other hand, only damage the skin’s surface (epidermis) and they’re the ones responsible for the red, visible signs of sunburn
Increases the risk of skin cancer
Not only does unhealthy UV exposure speed up signs of ageing, even more worryingly, it can increase the risk of skin cancer. Both UVA and UVA cause damage to the DNA of the skin cells which can lead to cancer, including melanoma.
How to treat sunburn
First things first, get out of the sun; the last thing sunburn needs is more sun.
Sunburn can sneak up on you but once you realise you’re burnt, head inside and keep covered up when you head outdoors in the days immediately following the burn.
Sunburn weakens the skin and damages the barrier. Skin cells have been depleted of the antioxidants that protect them from free radical attacks caused by UV rays and further exposure will delay healing.
How to treat sunburn on your face
Cool the skin down
The next step in treating sunburn starts with taking the heat out of the skin.
Look for ways to cool down to lower inflammation and reduce the uncomfortable burning sensation.
Take a cool shower or bath and place a cold compress on your face to soothe the skin, take the sting out of the burn and calm inflammation.
A gentle word of warning: never apply ice directly on sunburn. This can cause even further skin distress so always wrap ice in a soft fabric first to make a cold compress.
Keep skin moisturised
In the aftermath of a sunburn, your skin barrier is extremely compromised. Keeping your skin moisturised and replenishing lost lipids (oil) will help facilitate the healing of fragile skin.
Hemp seed oil is an excellent natural option for treating sunburn. The moisturising properties of this brilliant all-rounder help tackle dryness while the anti-inflammatory properties work to soothe and calm a fried complexion.
After sunburn, skin is left dry and prone to peeling. Hemp seed oil is packed with antioxidant power (Vitamin E) plus Omega-6 and Omega-3 oils to support the repair of damaged cells and hasten the healing process.
Bursting with 14 of the most nutrient rich botanical oils, including Hemp Seed Oil, our Moisturising Active Oil Serum will help repair compromised barrier functionality
Tip: Pop your moisturiser or face oil in the refrigerator for a deliciously cool application to soothe red, hot skin.
Choose ceramides to promote barrier repair
Super charge barrier repair and recovery by nourishing your skin with ceramides.
Fatty acids that help strengthen your skin's natural barrier, Ceramides can play a key role in tackling a range of skin conditions, including sunburn.
These mighty skin helpers keep cells hydrated and protected from external aggressors like allergens.
Our Oil-to-Milk Face Cleanser is enriched with ceramides and the ideal gentle cleanser to keep skin clear while promoting barrier repair.
Sunburnt skin struggles to maintain a hydrated state, due to the compromised barrier function, and moisture will evaporate rapidly from the skin than usual. The result? Your body, including your skin, becomes easily dehydrated.
Have a bottle of water handy for sipping to keep those healthy fluids up.
How to treat a sunburn blister
If your sunburn is severe enough, it may go on to blister which means taking extra caution during the healing process.
Rule number one for how to treat a sunburn blister is never, ever pick or pop it.
The blister is actually serving as a natural bandage for the skin. Picking it off can result in more damage, heighten the risk of a skin infection, and potentially scar. Leave the blister to run its course and pop naturally on its own.
Overall, you should treat the blister in the same way as the rest of your sunburn; keep up the hydration, moisturiser and stay out of the sun.
How to treat lip sunburn
Lip swelling, dryness, stinging, and redness? All these signs point to lip sunburn.
It’s remarkably easy for your lips to take a hit from UV rays. Lips are thinner than the skin and lack the same barrier protection leaving them vulnerable to sunburn.
If your lips are burnt, here’s a few things to do to relieve the discomfort:
- Apply a cool compress to
- Consider an over the counter anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain
- Soothe with a refrigerator-chilled aloe vera gel
As the sunburn heals, you can expect flaking and dryness. A quality lip balm or lip salve with supportive, natural ingredients, like shea butter, can help speed up the healing process and make the flaky stage less uncomfortable.
How to treat itchy sunburn
The intense itchiness that accompanies a severe sunburn is known as ‘devil’s itch’.
Persisting for days as the skin heals, if devils itch is giving you hell and you’re wondering how to treat itchy sunburn, prepare a colloidal oatmeal bath.
An incredible soothing ingredient, colloidal oatmeal alleviates itching and irritation and is commonly used for chicken pox and eczema. Colloidal oatmeal also has anti-inflammatory properties to counteract the inflammation caused by sunburn.
Broad spectrum SPF: Prevention is better than the cure
We’ve stepped you through tips for treating sunburn but the best advice of all? Be vigilant in applying sunscreen to avoid getting sunburnt in the first place.
Choosing a broad spectrum sunscreen protects the skin from both UVA and UVB. If a sunscreen isn’t a broad spectrum formulation, it will only protect the skin from UVA damage, not UVB.
We recommend using sunscreen with SPF50+ for the highest level of protection.
Daily sunscreen should be a non-negotiable part of your morning skincare routine all year round. For those spring and summer days when you’re outside for extended periods, be mindful to reapply sunscreen to your face and body.
According to the Cancer Council Australia, you need at least one teaspoon per limb, one for the front of the body, one for the back and one for the head.
Stay sun safe and your skin will thank you; now and in the future!