The Dos and Don'ts
of Treating a Sunburn

One of the few downsides of spending ample free time outside during the summer months is coming home and realizing that you've got a sunburn. Maybe you weren't as judicious with the sunscreen as you thought you were. Or perhaps you uttered the famous last words, "I never burn." In any case, you're now left with a lobster-red hide that makes wearing clothes nearly unbearable. Here's everything you should, and even more importantly, shouldn't do.

Do pop
some pills

For the next 24 hours, take two anti-inflammatory pain relievers (aspirin or ibuprofen), every six hours to help keep the pain in check and alleviate the burn's constant sting.

Don't take
a normal shower

Even Luke warm water can be painful on freshly sunburned skin. But a cool bath or shower can help reduce your surface temperature. Make sure to use a gentle soap like Kiehl's Body Fuel wash, which is packed with Vitamin E and cooling menthol.

Our Pick

Body Fuel,
$20 by Kiehl's

Kiehl's Body Fuel


Do apply
a burn-relieving product

You want a cream or gel that will gently hydrate sun-parched and irritated skin. Depending on your level of redness (and pain) you can choose what might work best for you. Look for products with soothing ingredients like oatmeal or aloe and such proven hydrators as coconut oil. For extreme, painful burns, you want a spray that has a topical anesthetic in it like Lidocaine.

Our Picks

Eucerin Skin Calming Moisturizer

Skin Calming moisturizer,
$11.79 by Eucerin

Skin Calming moisturizer,
$11.79 by Eucerin

Burt's Bees Aloe and Coconut Oil After Sun Soother

Aloe and Coconut Oil After Sun Soother, $4.36 by Burt's Bees

Aloe and Coconut Oil After Sun Soother,
$4.36 by Burt's Bees

Solarcaine Cool Aloe Burn Relief

Cool Aloe Burn Relief,
$9.99 by Solarcaine

Cool Aloe Burn Relief,
$9.99 by Solarcaine

Don't peel
the skin

We know, it's extremely satisfying. Like scratching a profound itch. But according to the best medical authorities, that dried skin is protecting the new, vulnerable layer underneath—and shouldn't be peeled off. Picking at your sunburn makes it easier for bacteria to enter your skin and opens you up to infection.