First Aid: Treating Sunburns

Author: Gabby Gamino, LVN, Manager

Increased sun exposure will increase your risk of getting sunburn.  Most sunburns are first degree burns of the outer layer of skin and can be easily treated at home.  Here are a few tips and tricks to help you care for your burn:

  • Try taking a cold shower or use a cold, wet compress on the burn area. This will help to lower the temperature of your skin and help keep your skin hydrated.
  • Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or naproxen can be used to treat headaches, fever, and pain associated with your sunburn.  If you are treating children, check with a physician before administering aspirin.
  • Stay hydrated.  Your body tends to lose water since your sunburn raises your body temperature.  Make sure you increase your fluid intake to offset that water loss.
  • Using over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams can help to relieve the inflammation and irritation caused by sunburn.  Don’t use products containing benzocaine or lidocaine because this may act as more of a skin irritant due to the chemicals in these products causing allergies.
  • Applying aloe vera gel or lotion throughout the day can help keep your skin moist and relieve some inflammation.  Avoid vigorous rubbing when applying your lotion since this can cause more irritation to your skin.
  • Leave your blisters intact to prevent infection and speed up healing time.  If your blister bursts on its own, apply an antibacterial cream to the area to aid with healing.
  • Some antibiotics, like Ciprofloxacin, can make you more sensitive to sunlight and more likely to burn.  Make sure to check with your doctor to see if you should wear extra sunblock while on certain medications.

The best treat way to treat sunburn is to avoid getting one in the first place. Use plenty of sunscreen and reapply often, even when it’s cloudy.  Plenty of UV rays are still able to penetrate the cloud layer which can cause just as severe a burn.  Try to stay out of the sun between the hours of 10 am to 4 pm because this is when the sun is at its strongest.  If you are venturing out, try to wear a broad-brimmed hat, tightly woven, losing-fitting clothing, and sunglasses. This will help reduce your risk of UV ray damage and keep your skin healthy and happy.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.

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