6 Ways You're Making Your Sunburn Worse

Hot weather + clear skies + lazy afternoons = soaking up the summer sun. And while ample time outdoors may sound like the perfect way to spend your day, if you don’t take steps to protect your skin, you’re asking for trouble.

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s forgetting to reapply sunscreen, not wearing a hat or opting for the sunny spot instead of the shady spot, all of these things together add up to a painful sunburn at the end of the day.

You’ve likely heard that sunscreen, sunglasses and hats are all key to preventing sunburns. However, you may be overlooking other surprising things that can make your sunburn worse. According to Erica Melling, PA, a specialist with ChoiceOne Urgent Care, here are 6 things your skin will want you to remember:

1. Don’t get citrus on your skin

Before reaching for a margarita, lemonade, or limeade, you’ll want to be sure you don’t get any citrus juice on your skin. Because of certain compounds in citrus fruits, it makes your skin become extra sensitive to sunlight, a condition known as phytophotodermatitis. Oftentimes this condition will cause symptoms beyond just the typical sunburn, such as an irregularly shaped rash, swelling, and blisters.

2. Know if your medications are photosensitizers

Some medications have chemicals that cause a reaction with sun exposure. That’s because these medications contain molecules that actually absorb the sun’s UV rays. There are a surprising number of medications that can cause this type of reaction. For instance, antibiotics, (NSAIDs), diuretics, acne medications and antihistamines can all increase the skin’s sun sensitivity.

3. Avoid wearing certain colognes and perfumes

If your cologne or perfume contains bergamot, sandalwood, or lavender, you may be at a higher risk of developing a sunburn. Because many of these perfumes and colognes contain the ingredients listed above, as well as many other chemicals, extended sun exposure can cause serious irritation. In fact, you are not only at a higher risk of developing a sunburn; you are also more likely to develop blistering and hyper-pigmentation.

4. Know that all sunscreen is not created equal

While it seems like all sunscreen, regardless of brand or price, should be able to prevent a sunburn, the truth is they can vary widely. “Thankfully, there are ratings that evaluate and rank different brands, so researching before you buy is a good idea,” adds Melling. Here are a few of the things I recommend you consider when deciding which sunscreen to buy:

    What is the SPF?

    What is the consistency of coverage?

    Is it water resistant?

    Is it free of harsh chemicals and perfumes?

Once you find the right sunscreen for you and your summer needs, here are a few important tips to remember:

    Follow the shot glass rule: Every 2-3 hours, you should apply a shot glass full of sunscreen.

    Make sure to pay special attention to your feet and ears, some of the most commonly missed areas.

    Don’t skip your lips. SPF lip balm is a must!

5. Make sure you stay hydrated

If you’re trying to nurse a sunburn, one of the most important things you can do for your skin is avoid getting dehydrated. Because a sunburn causes inflammation and irritation to the outer layer of the skin, this can actually lead to a loss of hydration. To help your skin repair the damage and inflammation, staying hydrated is essential. Also, staying hydrated will help minimize accompanying sunburn symptoms like pain, itching, and burning.

6. Steer clear of hot showers

A nice, hot shower can be a great way to unwind after a long, fun day in the sun; however, it may not be doing your skin any favors. Not only will hot water feel painful against sunburnt skin, it may cause further irritation. This is because hot water naturally strips your skin of its essential oils, making it feel even drier. Furthermore, by taking a long, hot shower, you’re more likely to experience blistering and your sunburn may take longer to heal—which is the last thing you want.

Your top choice for sunburn care

Chances are you’ve experienced one or more sunburns and you know just how uncomfortable they can be. Thankfully, things like Aloe, ice packs, cold baths, and hydrating foods can help to provide some much needed relief. However, in the event that you’re battling a severe sunburn, the experts at ChoiceOne Urgent Care can help. With care available seven days a week, 8 A-M to 8 P-M, they can provide comprehensive care for all of summer’s illnesses and injuries.

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