I must admit that most of my job is centered around the treatment and prevention of aging and finding ways to rejuvenate our bodies as we age gracefully through time. As many of you know, using a daily sunscreen is a must; not just during the summer months but year round. Even when the day is overcast, you are still being exposed to UV rays and your skin is susceptible to sun damage. Excessive sun exposure over time can lead to premature aging and can increase your risk of skin cancer. However, from time to time we don’t always remember the rules and find ourselves in trouble. I am guilty of this as well. As we transition from Spring to Summer I wanted to share some tips to take care of your skin when you have had excessive sun exposure.
If you experience a sunburn, your skin may be red and painful to touch. The first recommendation is to go indoors and start using cool cold compresses to the affected skin areas. I recommend the 20-20 rule; 20 minutes of cool compresses on the skin and then giving your skin a break for 20 minutes. Next, start moisturizing your sunburned areas. I recommend using moisturizers that are fragrance and dye free because they are less likely to irritate your injured skin. Use a moisturizer immediately after bathing and remember to reapply throughout the day.
While it’s tempting to pick your dry skin, allow your skin to naturally exfoliate to prevent scarring and hyperpigmentation. For persistent pain and discomfort, you can take over the counter ibuprofen which can assist in reducing swelling and inflammation. In the short term, you can use over the counter mild topical steroids (i.e. 1% hydrocortisone) to affected areas which can help speed up the recovery.
Increasing your water intake and staying hydrated afterwards is paramount. Hydrating will plump up your skin cells that have been traumatized by the sun damage.
If you experience worsening symptoms of fever, skin blistering, and/or increase in pain and swelling then it is time to see a medical professional. If you cannot get an early appointment, go to your nearest urgent care center or emergency department to be evaluated.
Remember these 3 main tips for sun protection:
- Stay indoors during the peak sunlight hours: 10am-4pm
- Cover your arms and legs and head with light colored clothing and hats.
- After application, reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours during the day when outdoors and every 30 minutes if you are in water.
At Chevy Chase Facial Plastic Surgery, We wish everyone a safe and healthy summer!