Why does my sunburn get worse after taking a shower?

Aloe vera cream, which can help with sunburn.

Sunburn can be a painful reminder that you should forget about sunscreen on a hot summer day. Sunburn is a first or second degree skin burn, depending on the duration and severity of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Many people take a cold shower to relieve the burning on their skin, but then feel that the sunburn gets worse. However, a bath won’t make sunburns worse and, in fact, can help.

Drink fluids to replace lost moisture.

The reasons why a shower can make the appearance of a sunburn worse vary. It takes at least two hours after prolonged, unprotected exposure to the sun for the first signs of redness to appear. It takes almost 24 hours for the full extent of the damage to be visible. Since most people shower after being at the beach or pool or having done some other outdoor activity, it may seem that the shower has aggravated the sunburn simply because of the time that has elapsed.

Ultimately, preventive measures and avoiding sunburn are the best ways to treat a sunburn.

Another reason a shower can make a sunburn worse is because most people with sunburn take a cold shower. Cold water closes the skin pores, which in turn gets trapped in the heat and can make the skin appear redder. While a cold shower is best, it can make your sunburn look different and retain heat. A hot bath doesn’t close the pores and heat can escape. Hot showers should be avoided with sunburn.

Do not apply petroleum jelly to sunburned skin.

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There are several reasons why a bath can be good for sunburned skin. Water helps to hydrate the skin and keep it clean. With proper care, most sunburns resolve with minimal, if any, short-term complications. Keep your skin well hydrated, but don’t apply petroleum jelly, butter, or any other lubricant that blocks pores. Aloe is one of the best treatments for sunburn. Many skin lotions and gels contain aloe. Cold compresses made with towels or cleaning cloths also help relieve pain.

Taking a cold shower is a better option than a hot shower after a sunburn.

Drink plenty of fluids to replenish lost moisture and prevent dehydration. Don’t avoid bathing, even if you think it makes your sunburn look worse. Clean skin prevents infection, which is rare but can occur, and moisturizing after showering helps prevent flakiness. If you experience severe sunburn or extreme pain, or if the burn is accompanied by symptoms such as vomiting, dehydration, or dizziness, you should call your doctor.

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