Two regular aspirin, taken every four hours around the clock until the pain stops.
This treatment is simple, cheap, and more effective than the most expensive creams, ointments, and lotions you can buy and apply.
Don’t wet or wash your affected skin: dryness afterward will only increase the pain.
I learned of this remedy in a two-paragraph letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, back when I was in med school.
I tried it: it worked!
Keep a little container of aspirin in your car’s glove compartment, so you always have it handy at the pool or beach.
The sooner you begin treatment, the better the results.
But, even if you can’t get your hands on any aspirin until bedtime, take two then, and again first thing in the morning when you wake up: you’ll still get relief.
Mechanism of action? The prostaglandins in aspirin are powerful anti-inflammatory agents; sunburn is a result of inflammation in the skin and subdermal tissues.
Thus, an agent that blocks inflammation can prevent and treat damage.
A second site of action is the brain, where the pain of sunburn is ultimately perceived; aspirin targets these receptors as well, lessening the discomfort and agony.
I find it a continual source of amazement that other doctors have never even heard of this remedy, instead dispensing gibberish advice like “apply cool compresses,” and prescribing steroids and all manner of ridiculous, expensive, less-than-efficacious meds.