Q: What’s the best way to treat a sunburn?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the best way to treat a sunburn involves providing enough moisture to ensure the skin doesn’t dry out. The group recommends frequent cool baths or showers to relieve the pain. Pat dry your skin with a towel, leaving a little water on your skin. Using a moisturizer helps to trap the water in your skin.

Moisturizers with aloe vera or soy have been shown to soothe sunburned skin. Spots that are particularly uncomfortable can be treated with over the counter hydrocortisone cream. Avoid treatments that end in caine, such as benzocaine or lidocaine, that can irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction. Sunburns draw fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body, so drinking extra water can help prevent dehydration. Aspirin or ibuprofen can help reduce any swelling, redness and discomfort. The group also recommends protecting skin while it heals from a sunburn by wearing tightly-woven clothing that won’t let light through.

Take steps to avoid repeated sunburns, which can cause long-lasting damage and lead to skin cancer.

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