How to treat sunburns while on vacation

lady with sun burned shoulder

What's a vacation without a little sunshine? Whether you're relaxing on a beach in the Caribbean or climbing through ancient ruins in Rome, you're sure to get some extra rays when you're adventuring. While the vitamin D that you get from the sun is a benefit of time spent outdoors, you might end up with too much of a good thing: Sunburns are all too common during trips and they can turn what should be a fun outing into an unpleasant experience.

Though prevention is the best strategy - sunscreen should be one of the first things in your suitcase when you pack - sometimes accidents happen and you'll discover the telltale redness on your skin once you're back inside. Try these suggestions for treating your burn to get the most out of your travel experience.

Ease the pain

When you stay out in the sun too long and end up getting burned, the pain is probably your first concern. After all, it's called a burn for a reason. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should take frequent cool showers or baths to make yourself more comfortable. When you get out, leave a little bit of water on your skin and then apply a moisturizer to keep the burned area from drying out.

You can also take aspirin or ibuprofen to help relieve the pain. The medication will not only make the burn more bearable, but should also help reduce any swelling that has occurred. Keep some in your bag when you leave for the day's adventures.

Looking for a natural remedy? In an interview with Prevention magazine, Dr. Fredric Haberman recommended creating a cold compress with witch hazel. If you don't have that compound lying around, you can also make one with fat-free milk or apply yogurt directly to your skin. Corn starch mixed with a small amount of water also makes a good paste for relieving burns, the magazine reported.

Protect your skin

Once the pain of your sunburn has decreased, you still have more work to do. Your skin is sensitive after it's been burned, so you should take extra precautions to protect it. To minimize further injury, apply the strongest SPF sunscreen coverage you can find and be sure to stay out of the sun between 12 noon and 2 p.m. Generally this is when the sun's UV radiation is the strongest.

Cover as much of your body as possible with clothing and wear a broad-brimmed hat. Consider bringing sun protective clothing along just in case. This clothing has UPF ratings that coincide closely with SPF values given to sunscreen and could really save the day if you couldn't cancel plans.

If possible, avoid the sun for a while and take advantage of indoor attractions at your location, such as museums, shops or restaurants. Spending some time away from those rays will give your skin time to recover.