Sunburn First Aid Tips: How to Treat Sunburn at Home?

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Skin can burn if it gets too much sun without proper protection from sunscreen and clothes. It is crucial to treat sunburn with first aid as soon as you notice it to help heal and soothe stinging skin. Although it may seem like a temporary medical condition, it can cause long-lasting damage to the skin. This damage increases a person’s risk of skin cancer, making it critical to protect the skin from the sun.

What is Sunburn?

Sunburn refers to the damage to the outermost layers of skin after getting too much ultraviolet radiation from the sun. It appears as reddening, inflammation, and tenderness of the skin and usually occurs between 12 and 24 hours after the exposure. Sunburns can develop into blistering and skin peeling. It’s a sign that your body is trying to shed its damaged skin cells and shedding the outer layer of skin. You may also experience headaches, fever, or nausea with severe sunburn. It’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you are sunburned and experience:

  • A fever over 103 degrees Fahrenheit with vomiting
  • Confusion
  • An infection in the sunburned area
  • Dehydration

Read- How to Treat Burn Victims with CPR and First Aid.  


What are the Causes of Sunburn?

Aside from direct exposure to the sun, 70% of UV light still gets through clouds. The intensity of UV rays is affected by the time of day, cloud coverage, altitude, and closeness to the equator. Your chance of sunburn increases depending on your time in the sun, certain medications you take, ozone depletion, where you are in the world, your skin type, and pigmentation.

Severity of Sunburn:

The severity of sunburns is categorized based on skin damage. The two most common types of sunburn are First degree burn and second-degree burn. However, Taking medicines that makes you more sensitive to UV rays or if you fall asleep in the sun for hours near the equator can lead to a third-degree sunburn.

  • First-degree sunburn: It damages your skin’s outer layer. Most sunburns are first-degree burn that turns the skin pink or red. This sunburn usually heals in a few days to a week.
  • Second-degree sunburn: Prolonged sun exposure can cause blistering and a second-degree burn (damage to the inner layer of your skin). This type of sunburn can take weeks to heal and may need medical treatment.
  • Third-degree sunburn: In rare cases, severe sunburn can cause a third-degree burn or scarring. This sunburn severely damages all layers of your skin, including the fat layer beneath the skin. In addition, it may destroy nerve endings and requires emergency treatment.

First Aid Treatment for Mild Sunburn:

Most sunburns do not blister. If they do, you can treat most blisters without seeing a doctor. Here is some care advice that should help.

Ibuprofen to Reduce Pain and Other Symptoms:

Ibuprofen is a drug that can block inflammatory reactions of the skin. As a result, it can reduce the redness and swelling. But, it needs to be started early. The redness is often not seen until 4 hours after sun exposure, and the pain and redness keep worsening. So if you think you got too much sun, take ibuprofen immediately to reduce pain and other symptoms. Don’t wait for redness; take it three times per day for two days.

Steroid Cream to relieve Pain:

Sunburn can be excruciating. However, covering it with cream can give great relief. When you have sunburn, use 1% hydrocortisone cream as soon as possible. Put it on three times per day to reduce swelling and pain. If you don’t have steroid cream at home, use a moisturizing cream or aloe vera cream as an alternative until you can get some. Avoid putting ointments on red skin because they can block the sweat glands.

Cool Baths for Pain:

Use cool, wet washcloths to the sunburned area several times daily to reduce pain and burning. For more extensive burns, give cool baths for 10 minutes. You can add 2 ounces of baking soda per tub. Do not use soap on sunburn.

Drink More Fluids:

Drink extra water on the first day. This helps to replace the fluids lost in the sunburn. This will also help you to prevent dehydration and dizziness.

Don’t Open Blisters:

Leave closed blisters alone to prevent infection. If you have broken blisters, trim off the dead skin using fine scissors cleaned with rubbing alcohol. For large open blisters, use an antibiotic ointment. Then, apply it two times a day for three days.

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When to Seek Medical Help for Sun Burn?

Seek medical attention if you have large blisters or those that form on the face, hands, or genitals. In addition, see your healthcare provider immediately if you have worsening pain, nausea, headache, confusion, fever, chills, pain in the eye or vision changes, or any signs of infection, such as blisters with swelling, pus, or streaks.

How to Prevent Sunburn?

How you should prevent sunburns to reduce skin cancer risk later in life.

  • Avoid exposure to direct sun in the middle of the day, even if it’s cloudy. Even on cloudy days, you may still be exposed to ultraviolet light.
  • Use a hat with a wide brim.
  • Cover up tightly woven or protective clothing with a high SPF rating.
  • Before going outdoors, use sunscreen on all exposed skin areas, including the lips.
  • Apply sunblock with an SPF of at least 30 generously 30 minutes before going outdoors, and reapply every 2 hours.

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Key Takeaway:

Sunburn can cause long-lasting damage to the skin. This damage increases a person’s risk of skin cancer, making it critical to protect the skin from the sun. Therefore, you should always be aware of the sunburn risk if exposed to intense sun.

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