Obviously it’s best to avoid getting a sunburn in the first place, said Ramsay Farah, MD. But if your skin ends up reddened after a day in the sun, here’s what Upstate’s division chief of dermatology advises:
1. Gauge the severity of the burn. If you have blisters, he said to make a trip to your health care provider, “just to make sure it’s examined and that no possibility of scarring arises.”
2. Take an aspirin. Its anti-inflammatory effects can help during the initial stage of a sunburn, if you take it promptly.
3. Apply cool compresses on the affected area.
4. Use a low-strength (1 percent) hydrocortisone cream, available over-the-counter, to help decrease inflammation but not affect wound healing. “You want to be careful not to put very strong steroids on the burn,” he said.
5. Head to your kitchen for a bottle of ketchup. Yes, you read that right. Farah explained that, “Ketchup has a lot of lycopenes and other anti-inflammatory factors, and it’s cold because it comes from the refrigerator. So if you put that on right away, along with your aspirin, you will decrease the inflammatory response.”
None of these measures will reverse the DNA damage, but they should help the burn heal better and feel better.