Medical Misconception: Sunburn Treatment

With summer in full swing, many of us are spending more time outside.

If you’ve ever forgotten to apply—or re-apply—sunblock, you’re all too familiar with the tenderness and radiating heat that comes with sunburn. Some believe in folk remedies to cure the burn, but do they work and are they safe?

Putting butter on a burn has been one common remedy for the pain associated with a wide range of burns. But placing butter or oil on it slows the ability for the heat of the burn to be released from the skin, and it may cause damage.

Another home remedy for sunburn is putting apple cider vinegar on a burn. Opinions on this remedy are mixed; some don’t think putting acidic vinegar on a burn will be a help, while others believe that mixing apple cider vinegar with water provides burn relief.

When treating sunburn, it may be best to stick to the tried and true methods of sunburn care. The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking plenty of water, cooling the skin with cool tap water, taking a pain reliever to help with pain and swelling, applying aloe vera gel (or lotion) or calamine lotion to soothe, and staying out of the sun (or protecting your burn by covering it up if you do go out).

As always, check with your health care provider if you have any questions about your sunburn or its treatment.

And remember: apply and re-apply sunblock when you are out in the sun. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying sunscreen 30 minutes before you are going to be out in the sun and reapplying every two hours. Don’t forget to reapply immediately if you are sweating excessively and after swimming or toweling off.

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