How to Treat a Sunburn: The 5 Best Products

Daughter and mother in beach with sunscreen

Oh, yes, summer. The days are longer, the clothes are smaller, and the fact that people still are not using sunscreen and staying out of the sun as they should becomes verrry evident. But rather than give a lecture, I will say that there are a few products you need to have in your skin care arsenal to help treat this condition, which is hopefully a rare one for you.

1.  Aveeno Colloidal Oatmeal Bath

Dozens of products claim to soothe, hydrate, and soften the skin, but this one works. In fact, natural colloidal oatmeal is so potent, it’s regulated like a drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the journal Cosmetic Dermatology, oats have been used since ancient Egypt to manage dry, itchy skin.Aveeno-Colloidal-Oatmeal-Bath

Colloidal oatmeal, a preparation of ground hulled oat kernels dispersible in water, is helpful to dry skin as it has a lower pH and more positive charge than human skin, enabling absorption of oils and dirt on the skin, as well as moisturizing ingredients into the skin. Colloidal oatmeal has also been found by Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Aveeno, to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis to a degree comparable with that of indomethacin, indicating that oatmeal may reduce pain and itching.

 2. Eucerin Calming Cream

Recommended by dermatologist Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, M.D., Eucerin Calming Creme also contains colloidal oatmeal. Eucerin Calming Creme is beneficial because it soothes, hydrates, and protects the skin, but does not contain the benzocaine, menthol, or other “cooling” ingredients that tend to aggravate allergic contact dermatitis in some patients.Eucerin-Calming-Creme

3.  Infinite Aloe Skin Care Cream

My family still loves to tease me about this one. When I was 13 years old, I went to Las Vegas for the first time. I religiously had saved $100, and I couldn’t wait to find the perfect souvenir. Well, I was in one of the local malls, and I was enticed by the Infinite Aloe stand.

“What did you get?”  my mother asked. I held up the bag, which was stuffed with seven jars of moisturizer. “You bought cream?!  How much was that?”

“$100.  But it has aloe as the first ingredient!”

My mother shook her head. But the jars – which lasted me just about two years – were certainly an incredible investment, and I’ve loved Infinite Aloe Skin Care Cream ever since. Turns out that Infinite Aloe is still the only skin care cream on the market that contains aloe as the main ingredient (at least to the best of my knowledge). It glides on easily and smoothly, though I do warn that it has a distinctive scent; I found it to be pleasant, but it does not mix well with other perfume. Despite this, I find Infinite Aloe to be very effective and recommend it to all of my friends!

Aloe vera has been a popular folk remedy since the 1930’s, during which time it was used primarily to be soothing and anti-inflammatory. Aloe vera’s efficacy as an anti-inflammatory ingredient was verified in the Journal of EthnopharmacologyAdditionally, according to a 1999 review of ten aloe vera-related studies, aloe vera might be effective for genital herpes and psoriasis as well.

4.  Aspirin, Ibuprofen, or Naproxen (for painful sunburns only)

Here’s a surprise; although non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often recommended to treat a sunburn, there is substantial proof indicating that they have no effect on recovery time or condition, according to a review of 40 studies in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. Despite this, NSAIDs still aid in reducing levels of pain, as they reduce the levels of circulating prostaglandins. So if you have a painful sunburn, pop an aspirin. But if you have a mild sunburn, you might not want to even bother, despite popular advice.

5.  Caffeine-Free Green Tea

Alvita-Chinese-Green-TeaCaffeine is the most abused drug in America, and unfortunately the erroneous beliefs about its possible uses are almost as rampant. Yet caffeine should definitely not be consumed by anyone who has a sunburn. Just 150 mg of caffeine – about that in a single cup of coffee – is enough to send nerve endings into overdrive for two hours, according to Dr. Audrey Kunin, M.D. However, green tea reduces oxidative stress and serves as a potent anti-inflammatory agent in the skin according to a study in Carcinogenesis, so using a caffeine-free version is likely to help the skin recover following sunburn.

Bottom Line

Everyone makes mistakes, but you shouldn’t have to suffer from a sunburn forever, or even for weeks.  The above products are amongst the best I have found for treating sunburn and alleviating symptoms.

What are your secrets to treating sunburn?   Let us know on Twitter and Facebook!

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  • Okay, so I'm not going to sit here and start on a big lament about how a single sunburn puts you at an increased risk for skin cancer.  Or about how sunburn only occurs after your cells are already damaged.  Nope, not going to do that.  ;-)  What I am here to write a full…

by Nicki Zevola

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