Sunburn Treatment and Healing Basics

Summer is coming to an end, and many folks are flocking outside to catch rays as often as they can. Unfortunately, this can mean sunburns, some of which are quite painful. Here are some tips from the professionals at Windsor Dermatology on relieving discomfort and promoting healing.

Sunburn Remedies

For discomfort relief, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following:

  • Taking ibuprofen to minimize discomfort, redness, and swelling
  • Drinking extra water to safeguard against dehydration
  • Minimizing your time outdoors and wearing tightly woven clothing when in the sun
  • Using a moisturizer with aloe vera or soy on sunburned skin
  • Applying a hydrocortisone cream on particularly painful areas
  • Avoiding creams and lotions with petroleum, benzocaine or lidocaine
  • Putting a damp, cold towel on the sunburn area for 10 to 15 minutes daily
  • Taking cold showers

When you get dressed, skip the tight jeans. They can rub your skin and cause premature, unhealthy peeling. Instead, opt for UV-protective clothing and loose cotton clothing. If you have blisters from your sunburn, do not touch them, much less pop them. A blister indicates a second-degree sunburn, and they must be left alone to heal. Touching or popping blisters could cause them to become infected. If a blister does break, clean it with water and mild soap. Next, apply an antibiotic ointment and nonstick bandage to the area. Go to the doctor if a rash develops.

Healing a Summer Sunburn

Mayo Clinic explains that it may take as long as two days for you to realize the severity of your sunburn. The healing process takes an additional few days, and the suggestions above can alleviate pain, discomfort, and swelling, perhaps reducing your healing time. The good news is that most sunburned skin heals by itself. After a few days of leaving the burn alone, your skin should begin to peel. Continue to let it be (no picking at it). However, you should moisturize the area. Keep up remedies such as drinking water, applying cold towels to the sunburn and limiting your time outdoors.

Of course, an at-home treatment may not be too effective in cases of a bad sunburn. If you have any questions about whether your sunburn might need medical attention, get in touch with your doctor or dermatologist. Better safe than sorry. You should seek medical attention if you have repeated sunburns, especially if you take precautions and still get burnt. Definitely, see a doctor if your sunburn is not improving at all after a few days; if it is widespread and blistering; if you experience serious chills, nausea, headache or confusion; and/or if infection signs such as red streaks or yellow drainage manifest.

The Long-Term Picture

To prevent other serious sunburns, try to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, and apply it at least 15 minutes before you head outside. The sun can damage your eyes, so wear sunglasses, and tell your doctor or dermatologist about medications you’re taking. Some antidepressants and antibiotics, among other medications, can cause your skin to become more sensitive to the sun. Sun exposure can lead to prematurely aged skin and skin cancer. To assess your risk or to get a bad sunburn checked out, call the office today or schedule an appointment online.

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