Although we all apply (and reapply) sunscreen with diligence, sunburn can still happen. And when you’re left with itchy, red, and peeling skin, you want to get rid of it fast. We know that aloe sprays and a cold showers can help soothe your skin, but can some products make it worse? In the days after a sunburn, you’ll want to tweak your beauty routine so your skin can heal.
Unsurprisingly, your skin is especially sensitive after a sunburn. You should put your normal skincare regimen on pause until the burn is healed, says Sonya Kenkare, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist based in Chicago.
“I would proceed carefully and test a small area first with a new or familiar product to see how your skin tolerates it before putting on your routine products everywhere,” says Dr. Kenkare.
Products containing alcohol will sting, which is one of the main ingredients in chemical sunscreens, explained Dr. Kenkare. Physical blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are best tolerated after a burn. Products with fragrance can also be irritating, even if you usually tolerate them, she says.
You should also avoid scrubs, and harsh acids like citric acid, glycolic acid or retinoic acid, says Rebecca Baxt, MD, MBA, FAAD, a New Jersey-based dermatologist. When you use a product that’s irritating, or something you’re allergic to, not only will it hurt, but it can also delay healing, adds Dr. Kenkare.
It could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for your sunburn to heal, says Dr. Baxt, depending on the severity of your sunburn. The best treatment is mild moisturizers, ice, cold compresses, and products like hydrocortisone cream and aloe vera gel. If it blisters, she suggests a topical antibiotic creams.
But the biggest thing Dr. Baxt says to avoid? More sun exposure.
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