What Should I Know About Sunburn Care?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A sunburn can be a painful, and later itchy, experience. Proper sunburn care will reduce pain and associated symptoms and promote rapid healing, to minimize the flaky, peeling, itchy stage of the healing process. It is important to be aware that if a sunburn is accompanied with dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or confusion, the patient should be taken to a hospital, as he or she may have heat stroke. Likewise, if a sunburn develops marked white or red streaks, or it is extremely painful and bubbly, it is time to see a doctor.

Aloe vera cream, which can help with a sunburn.
Aloe vera cream, which can help with a sunburn.

As soon as someone realizes that a sunburn is occurring, sunburn care should be initiated. The patient should be taken out of the sun, and he or she should take a cool shower to cool down the skin. After allowing the skin to air dry, an aloe lotion can be applied to soothe the sunburn. It is also possible to use other types of moisturizers and lotions, as long as they are fragrance free and they have a low oil content, as oils and fragrances can irritate the skin.

Aspirin may relieve pain associated with a sunburn.
Aspirin may relieve pain associated with a sunburn.

While the sunburn heals, loose, comfortable clothing should be worn. A fiber like cotton, linen, or silk which breathes easily is also advised, to promote air circulation over the sunburn. Showers and baths should be cool, and the site should be washed gently with an antibacterial soap and moisturized after it dries. Sea salt rinses can also be used in sunburn care, although they can sting intensely in the case of a severe sunburn. Even if the sunburn starts to itch and slough, scratching and heavy scrubbing must be avoided, because otherwise the tender new skin underneath will be exposed before it has had a chance to fully develop, and scarring could result.

Ultimately, preventative measures and avoiding burning in the first place are the best ways to treat a sunburn.
Ultimately, preventative measures and avoiding burning in the first place are the best ways to treat a sunburn.

Taking aspirin or other mild pain relievers can help with the pain from a sunburn, as can applying cool compresses to the burn. While the sunburn is healing, it is important to keep it covered up and to stay out of the sun, as the skin is very vulnerable to further damage even with meticulous sunburn care. If a sunburn starts to get itchy, taking a bath with some baking soda can ease the itching, and so can slapping the sunburn if the itching becomes intolerable.

Some lotions are designed to counter act the effects of a sun burn.
Some lotions are designed to counter act the effects of a sun burn.

Once someone has been sunburned, he or she is vulnerable to damage in the future, even after the burn fully heals. It is a good idea to observe some basic rules of sunburn care such as wearing sunscreen regularly in the sun, protecting the skin with large sun hats, wearing loose comfortable clothing which covers the limbs, and picking shady recreation spots where people can enjoy the outdoors without burning. Sunburn prevention will prevent the recurrence of a burn, and keep people more comfortable in sunny weather.

Contact a medical professional if a sunburn occurs with dizziness or nausea, as the individual may have suffered heat stroke.
Contact a medical professional if a sunburn occurs with dizziness or nausea, as the individual may have suffered heat stroke.
Wearing large sun hats to protect the skin is one of the basic rules of sunburn care.
Wearing large sun hats to protect the skin is one of the basic rules of sunburn care.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: