A recent study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology found something concerning: About a third of adults living in the U.S. are getting sunburned each year. And according to another study, published in the same journal, sunburn caused an estimated 33,826 visits to emergency rooms in the U.S. in 2013, costing an associated $11.2 million.
These stats are worrisome, experts say, considering sunburn is a major risk factor for skin cancer.
In an ideal world, we’d all use sunscreen properly every time we venture outdoors, cover up with a hat and other sun-protective clothing, seek shade—and never ever experience a sunburn. “It’s true that the best way to treat a sunburn is to prevent it from happening in the first place,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “But in real life, accidents happen.”
Maybe you forgot to reapply it during a long day at the beach, didn’t realize you needed sunscreen on a cloudy day, or the friend you asked to do your back missed some spots.
No matter the reason for the lapse; your skin is now red, hot, swollen and sore, and you need relief. While there’s nothing that can undo the damage, there are steps you can take to make the sunburn look and feel a bit better while it heals.
Click here to view the list of recommendation for treating a sun accident.