What are sunburns?
A sunburn is damage to the skin caused by ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or tanning beds. Sunburn may occur on cloudy days and even in colder temperatures when UV light reflects off snow and water. Most sunburns are first-degree burns, which involve only the outer layer of skin and result in pain and redness. More severe sunburns can cause the skin to blister and may result in symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Although it is more common in light-skinned individuals, those with darker skin can also experience sunburn.
How can sunburns be treated at home?
You need to get out of the sun if you have symptoms of sunburn. You should drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. You can take cool baths and apply aloe-vera lotion to soothe the skin. Skin peeling is a normal part of the healing process. Take Tylenol® or Advil® to lessen pain, swelling, and fever.
When should I seek Professional Care?
You should seek medical attention if you experience signs of heat exhaustion, such as dizziness, headache, nausea, or confusion, if you have a severe, blistering burn covering more than 20% of your body, or if you have a fever greater than 102ºF (38.9ºC).
How can I prevent sunburns?
To prevent sunburns, apply a sunscreen with SPF 15 or greater to all exposed areas, at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. You should reapply sunscreen at least every two hours while outdoors. Stay indoors between 10 A.M. and 3 P.M., when the sun is most intense. Wear loose, light-colored shirts with sleeves, pants, and shoes if you burn easily. Shade the face with a wide-brimmed hat. Wear UV-protective sunglasses. Drink plenty of water, as sweating helps cool the skin. Ask your physician if any of your medications may make you more sensitive to the sun.