Remedies that can help heal, and those not worth the money

There’s no cure for a sunburn, but there are ways to minimize the misery.

Smart secrets for sunburn relief

“Don’t get burned twice!” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart.  “Some sunburn products may do more harm than good.”

To help prevent sunburns (too many can lead to early skin aging and skin cancer), experts recommend applying sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before heading outside, and then reapplying it at least every two hours while outdoors.  Because using sunscreen isn’t enough, wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed, tightly-woven hat if possible.

For those who find themselves suffering from a sunburn despite best efforts, the secret to relief is to treat it quickly from the inside and the outside.

Here are some remedies that ShopSmart say can provide comfort from a sunburn — and those that they feel aren’t worth trying:

What to try
  • Food and water. Drink extra water, especially when in the sun — bodies work hard to cool skin, so staying hydrated can help. Eating fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants may also help prevent cell damage caused by the sun.
  • Painkillers. Anti-inflammatory pain medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin can help ease the pain and discomfort that can be caused by a sunburn.
  • Hydrocortisone cream. If a sunburn is causing itchiness, an over-the counter cream can help.
  • Lotion. Don’t waste money on a special after-sun lotion. A light moisturizer or aloe vera can minimize peeling and flaking.
What to skip
  • After-sun sprays.  Pain-relief sprays offer instant relief, but most contain benzocaine or another anesthetic that can make things worse for those who are allergic.
  • Vaseline.  Applying Vaseline or other petroleum jelly products right after getting too much sun won’t help in cooling down.
  • Noxzema. Applying more than a thin layer of Noxzema to soothe a sunburn probably won’t help. Even the manufacturer does not recommend the use of its products for sunburn relief because they haven’t been tested for that purpose.
  • Vitamin creams and oils. Don’t waste money on pricey lotions and potions that contain antioxidants — incorporate them into a diet instead. And don’t puncture Vitamin E capsules to spread the oil on a sunburn since it can inflame sore skin on those who are allergic, and may not help anyway.

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