Sunburned by the Sun?

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Featured, Health & Wellness

Published on July 21, 2021 with No Comments

If you have been sunburned, you will experience the signs and symptoms of sunburn within a few hours of exposure to the sun. The affected skin will be painful, red and swollen. In some cases it might blister. You may also experience a headache, fever and nausea.

If you have a sunburn

For sunburn relief, take these steps:

  • Cool the skin. Apply to the affected skin a clean towel dampened with cool tap water. Or take a cool bath.
  • Apply a moisturizer, lotion or gel. An aloe vera lotion or gel or calamine lotion may be soothing.
  • Drink water to prevent dehydration.
  • Don’t break small blisters (no bigger than your little fingernail). If blisters break, gently clean the area with mild soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover the wound with a nonstick gauze bandage. If a rash develops, stop using the ointment and seek medical care.
  • Take a pain reliever such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to help with the discomfort and swelling of sunburn. Some sunburn relief medications are gels.
  • Avoid more sun exposure while your skin heals from the sunburn.
  • Apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream if your sunburn is severe.

Seek medical care for large blisters, such as those that cover the back. Large blisters are best removed because they rarely remain intact on their own. Also seek medical help if you experience worsening pain, headache, confusion, nausea, fever, chills or signs of infection, such as blisters with pus or red streaks.

Tanning: Does a base tan prevent sunburn?

Should I go to a tanning salon before a sunny vacation to help prevent sunburn?

There’s little evidence to support the idea that a base tan protects you against sunburn. A few sessions of indoor tanning will not prevent you from burning in the sun. A base tan is no substitute for good sun protection. Plus, the risks of long-term tanning outweigh the unproven benefits of a base tan.

Tanning under the sun or a sunlamp may give modest protection to those who are able to tan well. But the protection it gives does not come close to that derived from the use of a sunscreen. The larger issue is that any change in skin color from tanning is a sign of damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Repeated exposure to UV radiation — whether from the sun or a tanning bed — increases your risk of premature skin aging and skin cancer.

Use these methods to prevent sunburn and other skin conditions:

  • Avoid sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The sun’s rays are strongest during these hours.
  • Cover up. While outside, wear tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs. Consider wearing clothing specially designed to provide sun protection. A broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses with a high UV protection rating also will help.
  • Use sunscreen frequently and liberally. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. And reapply it every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or perspiring.

Some people have medical conditions that may require a few short exposures to UV light before summer or a sunny vacation, to prevent flare-ups. Talk with your doctor before doing this.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if the sunburn:

  • Is blistering and covers a large portion of your body
  • Develops blisters on the face, hands or genitals
  • Is causing severe swelling
  • Shows signs of infection, such as pain, pus or red streaks leading away from an open blister
  • Doesn’t improve within a few days

Seek emergency medical care if you are sunburned and experience

  • A fever over 103 degrees
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Dehydration

Source: Mayo Clinic Staff

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