The most effective sunburn treatment simply
helps ease your discomfort:
it cool. Apply cold compresses
- such as a towel dampened with cool water - to the affected skin. Or take a
it moist. Apply aloe or
moisturizing cream to the affected skin. Avoid products containing alcohol,
which can further dry out skin. Beware of sunburn treatment products containing
anesthetics, such as benzocaine. There's little evidence that these products are
effective. In some cases, they may even irritate the skin. Don't use benzocaine
in children younger than age 2 without supervision from a health care
professional. If you're an adult, never use more than the recommended dose of
benzocaine and consider talking with your doctor.
blisters intact. If blisters form,
don't break them. You'll only slow the healing process and increase the risk of
infection. If needed, lightly cover blisters with gauze.
an over-the-counter pain reliever. If needed, take anti-inflammatory medication - such as aspirin
or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) - according to the label instructions
until redness and soreness subside. Don't give children or teenagers aspirin.
It may cause Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease.
peeling skin gently. Within a few days,
the affected area may begin to peel. This is simply your body's way of getting
rid of the top layer of damaged skin. While your skin is peeling, continue to
use moisturizing cream.
Consult a doctor for
sunburn treatment if:
- Severe sunburn covers
a large portion of your body with blisters
- Sunburn is accompanied
by a high fever or severe pain
- Severe sunburn doesn't
begin to improve within a few days
To prevent future
episodes of sunburn, use sunscreen frequently and liberally. Select a
broad-spectrum product - one that provides protection against both ultraviolet
A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation - with a sun protection factor (SPF)
of at least 15. If you take medications that make sunburn more likely, be
especially careful. A common example is tetracycline taken orally for acne.
Common sense counts, too. Cover up while you're outdoors, and stay in the shade
as much as possible.
Article written by Kayleen Hornbrook, D.O., of Family Physicians at Prairie Trail for Ankeny Living Magazine.
Information courtesy of mayoclinic.com.