The Best Homemade Remedy for Sunburn, According to a Dermatologist

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Often thought of as an unfortunate consequence of having a little too much fun in the sun, sunburn is actually a serious threat to your overall health. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, suffering just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence can double the chances of developing melanoma. Get five or more burns before age 20 and your risk jumps by 80 percent.

Clearly, sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more is crucial. But if you’ve found yourself outdoors for longer than anticipated or just didn’t come prepared with UV protection, there is a way to resolve the discomfort that a sunburn can bring. Speaking with Business Insider, dermatologist Erin Gilbert shared a simple home remedy that can speed healing.

Gilbert recommends that sunburn sufferers take washcloths and soak them in a bowl of milk that’s been placed in the refrigerator. When the cloths are chilled, apply them over the areas of the burn. The cooler temperature of the compress will draw heat away from the burn, while the lactic acid in the milk helps remove blistering skin so the area heals faster.

Gilbert says aloe vera also works for topical pain relief, but that commercial lidocaine and benzocaine provide only temporary numbing. Taking aspirin or an anti-inflammatory like Motrin is better for reducing discomfort.

The Skin Cancer Foundation has also made note of some things not to do. Applying ice directly to a burn is not recommended. Showering for prolonged periods can dry out the burn, so try to expedite bathing. If you develop blisters, don’t pop them—your skin is healing and it’s best to leave it alone. Most importantly, avoid any further sun exposure. If your clothing lets light pass through when you hold it up to a window or lamp, it’s probably too thin to protect your skin from further damage.

[h/t Business Insider]