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The question is how to turn a sunburn into a tan. The answer to that is with time. The melanin cells in the skin become stimulated with sun exposure which results in the golden to brown colour of the skin that individuals experience. When one is exposed to the sun for a reasonably long period of time, then the UVA and UVB rays will burn the skin.

This results in a sunburn, which is a red and painful skin that's hot to the touch. Once the sunburn, and the redness of the skin, has resolved you will notice that the tan comes through nicely.

We shall then mention steps that can be taken to manage an initial sunburn and speed up the recovery process as well.


If you experience a severe sunburn then you can follow these suggestions to help you:

  • Using over-the-counter or prescription pain medications can help control the swelling and pain caused by a sunburn, especially if you use them a short time after the skin was exposed to the sun. Recommended medications may include ibuprofen or naproxen, and some pain medications come in the form of gels that can be applied to the affected skin.
  • Using medications that control any itching. You can apply a corticosteroid cream or ointment, 0.5 to 1% hydrocortisone, on the affected skin if you experience itching, which occurs when the skin in healing.

Home remedies

Once the sunburn has occurred, there isn't much that can be done to limit the damage done to your skin, but there are suggestions that you can follow that will help reduce the pain and discomfort:

  • Cool the skin off by applying a cold compress such as a towel that has been soaked in cold water and wrung out. Another option is to take a cold shower or bath.
  • Applying cooling products on the skin. Moisturizers or lotions and gels that contain aloe vera can be applied to the affected area and they help to reduce the pain caused by the sunburn.
  • Don't burst blisters if they form. Blisters that form as a result of a sunburn contain the body's natural fluid that acts as a protective layer. Therefore, by breaking the blisters, you slow down the skin's healing process and you increase your chances of getting an infection on the skin. A good way to manage blisters is by lightly covering the affected area with gauze. If the blisters burst by themselves, then keep the area clean with a mild soap and water, apply an antiseptic ointment or cream on it and then cover the area with a saline (salt water) dressing.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water. Fluid can get lost through injured skin very quickly, so make sure you stay well hydrated.
  • Managing peeling skin. A few days after the burn, the skin will start to peel because the top layer of the skin was damaged, and this is how the body gets rid of it. At this time it's important to carry on using moisturizing cream to keep the skin protected from losing moisture and from becoming thick and hard.
  • Protect the current sunburn from further sun exposure. At this time it would be wise to stay out of the sun or protect yourself by wearing large-brimmed hats, long sleeve shirts, trousers or dresses and something to protect the back of your neck.


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