Skin Emergencies: How to Treat Sunburn

Skin Emergencies: How to Treat Sunburn featured image

Nothing screams beauty mishap like a red, blotchy complexion. “Red, inflamed skin can signify many things and can be from many different causes; the most common being an allergic reaction to chemicals or when the skin comes into contact with an irritant,” explains Cecilia Wong, founder of Cecilia Wong Skincare. No matter how much makeup you use to cover it up, you need to tackle the root of the problem to get your skin back to normal.

What It’s From
A bad sunburn or windburn

How It Happens
Any time the skin’s barrier function (the skin’s ability to protect itself) is compromised by an environmental element or ingredient, the skin goes into defense mode and tries to safeguard itself. “Essentially, the skin has experienced trauma to the superficial layer and some of the ceramides have been lost, so the skin can’t protect itself as well,” says New York dermatologist Hooman Khorasani, MD. “It becomes dehydrated and exposed to allergens and pathogens, causing an inflammatory response, which leads to redness.”

How To Fix It
Skin that’s out of balance needs to be fed with the right nutrients, oils and vitamins. Red, inflamed skin must be treated gently and with care because 
of its fragile state.

Treat It With
At-Home Remedies 
Keep it basic: Wash—don’t scrub—with a simple, creamy cleanser (avoid hot water), use a medium-weight moisturizer to hydrate and apply an aloe-based gel or cooling lotion to alleviate any discomfort. “Oils, like chamomile, calendula and carrot, help heal the skin, and give instant relief,” says Wong, who also suggests taking chlorophyll pills to help decrease the inflammation.
Follow your normal skin-care routine, but skip anything with vitamin A or C in it as well as retinoids because your skin may not be able to tolerate the harshness.

Once your skin starts to return to normal, you can slowly start to work your regular products back into your routine.

Doctor’s Orders
“Apply whole-milk compresses to the skin followed by a drop of over-the-counter cortisone. Together, the two take down inflammation and redness,” says New York dermatologist Gervaise Gerstner, MD.

Product Pick
Enriched with aloe, oats and an anti-irritant derived from chamomile to soothe skin, Skyn Iceland Pure Cloud Cream provides intense hydration to skin that’s been compromised  by extreme weather—both hot and cold. $65, skyniceland.com

Did You Know?
If harsh anti-aging or acne products cause a burning sensation after you have applied moisturizer, it’s because your skin is overprocessed, overexfoliated and the barrier has been compromised, which can cause ingredients that get absorbed to create the stinging sensation.

More Solutions for Skin Emergencies: 

Itchy Skin

Flaking Skin

Stress Breakouts

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