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June 25, 2017
You get home after a day outside, and terror strikes: You got sunburned…and it’s bad. You need relief quick, or you will be tossing all night long. Here’s what to do.
The best way to start is to take a survey of the locations of the worst burns. This way, you can prioritize which ones need treatment and gentle care. Common locations for sunburns include your face, neck, ears, arms, legs and the top of your head. These are the areas of the body that get the most sun exposure.
There are many different methods used to make sunburn feel better. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using aloe vera for sunburn or a moisturizer to comfort and reduce inflammation. The SCF also suggests taking a cool bath or shower, and adding a gentle moisturizer afterward to help seal in the moisture and prevent dryness. Before bed is an ideal time to do this, so you feel cool as you prepare for sleep.
Just as there are many options that you could pick to make your skin feel better, there are others that can make it feel a whole lot worse. Choose wisely, particularly as you move into the middle stages of the sunburn. Your sunburned skin has been damaged and needs time and care to heal. Protect it with the use of appropriate lotions and creams, including hydrocortisone. Do not pop any blisters, as they are protecting the delicate new skin underneath. If an area is particularly burned, you may have a hard time avoiding scratching or rubbing it in your sleep. Consider wearing a light pair of gloves at night to help remind you to avoid aggravating the skin as you sleep.
The worst part of a sunburn is that it often does not really show symptoms until hours later, as you crawl into bed. Soon, you cannot sleep for all the tossing and turning. To ensure a better night’s rest, you should take the following precautions:
If the sunburn is not particularly bad, the worst you will face during the night is discomfort with pressure on the burned areas, and feeling too warm from the excess heat exposure. Keeping cool and avoiding laying on the worst burns should help.
If sleeping with a sunburn feels uncomfortable, it may seem odd that this is all you want to do. The condition is known as “sunburn fatigue,” and results from the sun exposure, not the burn. Getting too much sun puts you at risk for several kinds of skin cancers, not to mention the obvious discomfort of a sunburn. To avoid this problem in the future, make a plan to protect yourself while you are out in the sun. Wear a hat and sunglasses, cover up, apply sunscreen as needed, and stay hydrated. Minimizing your sun exposure will help you look younger as you get older, too.
No one wants to spend all night fighting sunburnt feelings. After all, your life does not stop just because you got too much sun one day. With these tips, you can get adequate overnight sunburn relief, protect your skin and sleep better as you heal.