How to Treat a Sunburn
Summer is finally here! And while I hope that our readers will take proper sun precautions, I do have some advice on how to treat a minor sunburn.
Sunburn is caused by excessive sun exposure. Most are relatively mild and can be treated at home. Sunburn may appear within minutes to hours of sun exposure and is characterized as red, painful skin. Small blisters can be present. Sunburn usually gets worse over the first 24 to 36 hours. It will then resolve with peeling skin over the next 3 to 5 days.
Some sunburns can be more serious and should be evaluated by a health care professional. You should seek medical care if:
- Sunburn covers a large part of your body.
- Blisters cover a large part of your body.
- You have fever, chills, confusion or nausea.
- You experience severe or worsening pain.
- Sunburn is not responding to at-home treatments.
- You see signs of a skin infection, such as pus, yellow crust, red streaks and severe pain.
First and foremost, try to prevent sunburn by staying out of direct sunlight, especially midday. If you are outdoors, try to sit under a shade and wear a hat, cover-up, a shirt with long sleeves and pants or a long skirt. In addition, wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and with broad spectrum UVA and UVB coverage. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours if you are outside and every hour if you are in the water.
- Take an anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen (unless you have a medical reason not to). This will help the pain and also decrease inflammation.
- Apply a topical hydrocortisone. Avoid any open skin. A topical hydrocortisone will also help decrease inflammation.
- Use cold compresses.
- Apply aloe vera gel. Remember to avoid any open skin.
- Use moisturizers. Again, remember to avoid any open skin.
- Do not break any blisters. Breaking them can increase the chance of infection.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Stay out of the sun!
Safe in the Sun
“Wear a beach cover-up when headed for an all-day outing in the sun. I actually love the sun shirts that have SPF woven into the fabric.” – Dr. Vishakha Gigler
“The basic difference between a cream and a lotion is that cream is thicker. This allows for better emollition and hydration.” – Dr. Vishakha Gigler