sunburnYes, you slathered on the sunscreen before you hit the beach and you even bought a floppy hat from the local island market, but somehow you managed to fry yourself like an egg. I forgive you and I’m here to help. (I’d be a big fat liar if I said that I haven’t done it myself. Sadly, I have entirely too many stories to list here.) Try these simple suggestions from skincare experts for taking the sting out of the burn.

Load up on cool water. Burnt to a crisp? Consider water your new best friend. Drink plenty of H2O to avoid dehydration, take frequent cool showers and apply a cool, damp compress to soothe your skin. This was a crucial step for me after a serious burn I got lounging around an Orlando pool sipping pina coladas. The sun damage made me feel sick to my stomach (okay, maybe the alcohol is partly to blame) and the only thing that turned things around was gulping down a liter or so of water.

Lube up. Lotions containing aloe vera are particularly soothing to skin that’s been overcooked. Dab it onto affected areas several times a day until your sunburn heals. This doesn’t have to be expensive, either. I typically stock up on a humungous bottle of pure aloe for less than $10 simply by opting for the drugstore brand. If your skin is swollen or painful, apply a topical ointment like 1% hydrocortisone cream (also available in store brand).

Pop a pill. Hit the medicine cabinet and grab an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin to reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief. What’s easier than that?

Take a hot shower? I must confess: This tip does not come from a medical expert. It comes, in fact, from a drunk yacht captain who was at the helm of a private boat I once took from Miami to Key West. (Nevermind the fact that he was disturbingly hung over the morning we headed back to Miami and – shocker – found ourselves smack in the middle of a tropical storm. But that’s another story for another time.) So burnt was I after arriving at the southernmost tip of the U.S. that Life (this was his name…really) advised me to hit the showers and run the water as hot as I could stand it to take the bite out of the burn. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. Afterward, I actually did feel some relief. Old sailor’s tale perhaps, but even if it was simply my mind that did the trick, I was glad I indulged.

Try a home remedy. Though dermatologists are split on the effectiveness of home remedies, these alternative treatments from experts at the Mayo Clinic may be worth a try. I can’t say for sure if they’re golden relievers because I have yet to give them a whirl, but when you’re so sore that a child’s touch feels like a newly sharpened cleaver, anything’s worth a shot.
-Add a little milk to your cool-water compress.
-Sprinkle ½ cup oatmeal or baking soda into a cool bath.
-Cut open a raw potato and spread its juice over your skin.
-Sponge some chamomile tea onto the affected area.
-Mix 1 teaspoon vegetable oil with 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil and smooth it over the burn.