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Tips to treat that summer sunburn

Thursday - 7/3/2014, 4:09pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Sunburn is the holiday weekend souvenir that nobody wants but far too many of us will spend too much time at the beach or pool this weekend and end up with a burn.

Dr. Howard Brooks, a D.C. dermatologist, says there are steps that can be taken to ease the discomfort and promote healing.

"When you have a sunburn, the best thing to do is to keep your skin moisturized," he says.

He says as soon as you notice the burn, take a cool, quick shower and slather on a gentle lotion. It does not have to be a fancy cream, but stay away from anything with a fragrance, which can irritate a sunburn.

Brooks says an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can help ease inflammation, and it is ok to pop an aspirin or ibuprofen to bring down soreness and swelling.

However, a cream with a numbing agent in it like lidocaine or benzocaine will only make matters worse.

Drinking extra water is also a good idea because a sunburn draws fluid to the surface of the skin and away from the rest of the body, raising the risk of dehydration.

And if the skin blisters, just leave it alone.

"I know it is very tempting to pop that blister," says Brooks, "but the blister is actually there to protect the skin underneath."

If a blister breaks, apply an over-the-counter antibacterial ointment, just as you would on a bad scrape. Brooks also suggests covering a sunburn when heading back outside, including wearing long sleeves and pants if necessary.

"It might not be ideal over the summer, but you want to wear clothing that will protect you from the sun," he says.

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