We all know summer is here and we should be protecting ourselves and our skin from too much sun exposure. The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry and the truth is, often we just aren’t careful enough. We are distracted or (in my case) doze off and don't reapply soon enough or we get a bit lazy and some of those UV rays sneak through. You try, but sometimes, burn happens. And when it does, life is much more livable if you know how to treat a burn.

First of all, learn from your mistake(s). If you do end up sunburned, consider it a warning that your protection practices need impoving. Treat the burn, and then figure out how you can do better in the future. Sunburns lead to skin damage, and skin damage can lead to melanoma. If the burn covers more than 20% of your body (say, your entire back), seek medical attention. My grandmother always told me that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so here are five ways to handle the results of too much UV exposure:

Don't Wait

The time treat a sunburn is as soon as it appears. Unfortunately, symptomes could take up to six hours, so you could be playing catch-up. And even if the damage seems light, it could just be a sign of what’s in store. The faster you act, the more relief you can provide and the less severe your burn will be. Get out of the sun and start treating.

Cool Down

Cool your skin to get the heat out and start providing comfort with a cool bath or shower. Adding some baking soda for a 15-minute bath can provide extra relief. If a bath isn’t an option, putting a cold, damp towel on the affected areas for 15 minutes every day can help with swelling, redness and discomfort.


Once you’ve cooled down, apply a lot of moisturizer. Over apply it if necessary. Moisturizers, especially one with aloe vera, will make you feel better and help reduce noticeable flaking. Also, using a moisturizer with vitamins C and E may reduce resulting damage. Apply moisturizer for as long as the symptoms last.


A sunburn dries your skin, drawing moisture from your body. When you get burned, you need to stay hydrated. Drink extra water while you have symptoms, and watch out for signs of dehydration such as excessive thirst, dry mouth, headache, reduced urination, dizziness and sleepiness.


Start medicating a sunburn right away to get relief. Ibuprofen can reduce the swelling and redness, and it could prevent long-term skin damage. Avoid moisturizers or lotions that contain petroleum, which will trap heat in your skin, or benzocaine and lidocaine, which can further irritate your skin. See a doctor if a sunburn leads to fever, chills, dizziness, weakness or nausea.