Acoustic Post - How to Treat Sunburn

By Neha Garg


  1. What is Sunburn?
  2. Am I at risk of getting Sunburn?
  3. How do I know if I have Sunburn?
  4. How can I prevent Sunburn?
  5. How to treat Sunburn?

1. What is Sunburn?

When the skin gets burned from invisible Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun it is called Sunburn. This usually happens when you stay in the sun for too long. Sunburn can also happen from tanning beds. 

There are many reasons you should avoid getting these sunburns. They are: 

  • Skin Cancer: Sunburn is one of the most common reasons for getting skin cancer. 
  • Wrinkles: Sunburn increases and facilitates wrinkles. To keep that young, wrinkle-free, and glowing skin, you should avoid long exposure to the sun without sunscreen. 

2. Am I at risk of getting Sunburn? 

There are a few factors that increase risk of getting a Sunburn. 

  • If you have light-colored skin
  • If you live in tropics
  • Certain medicines like Ibuprofen, certain antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, tetracycline), furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, antifungals,  increase the risk of getting a sunburn. 
  • If you spend long hours in the sun, sand or snow (snow and sand reflect the sun)

3. How do I know if I have Sunburn?

If you experience redness in sun-exposed parts 3-5 hours after being in sun and the redness increase over a few hours most likely this is sunburn. You may also experience warmth and pain in that area and bathing in hot water will cause discomfort/pain. If severe, you may also have a fever, severe pain, and blisters (fluid-filled bubbles on the skin).

4. How can I prevent Sunburn? 

It is very important to learn how you can prevent yourself from getting a Sunburn. These are a few tips to follow:

  • Wear Sunscreen: I cannot emphasize in words how important it is to wear sunscreen. Make sure you apply a generous amount to all uncovered parts of your body. Apply Sunscreen 20-30 mins before going in the sun and reapply every 2-3 hours. If you go swimming in a pool/ beach reapply after you come out even if the sunscreen is water-resistant. It is also very important to choose the right sunscreen. 
  • Choose the right Sunscreen: Make sure that the sunscreen is with SPF of 30 or more, mentions that it protects from both UVA and UVB (also called broad-spectrum) and is not older than 3 years. 
  • Make sure to stay in the shade as much as you can if your skin is prone to getting Sunburns. Always carry an umbrella.
  • Make sure to wear sunglasses, a wide hat, and preferably a long-sleeved swim cover-up. 
  • Avoid the hours when the sunrays are straight and strongest especially between 10 am to 3 pm
  • Don’t forget to protect your lips with a lip balm with SPF more than 30.  

5. How to treat Sunburn?

If you think you have a Sunburn:

  1. Apply cool compresses with cool towels all over the red area or just place the affected part under cold running water.
  2. Studies have shown that applying Aloe vera gel to the affected area helps decrease inflammation and pain. 
  3. You can also use spray/lotions available over the counter to treat sunburn which has aloe and local anesthetics like Solarcaine, Dermoplast. Calamine lotion may also help. 
  4. If you have mild pain, you can use pain medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen (NSAIDs). Take them as soon as you feel any pain, the earlier the better. Do not use these medicines if your doctor has advised avoiding them (in case you have an allergy to them or you have any other medical condition where you cannot  take them)
  5. Drink plenty of water and keep yourself well hydrated for a few days. 
  6. Don’t pop the blisters. Let them heal on their own. If severe blisters or you have a fever, seek medical advice. 
  7. In case the symptoms persist and the above remedies do not help always see your doctor. 
  8. Make sure you avoid going in the sun until the redness and pain have resolved. 
  9. Most importantly always try to prevent getting sunburn – you all know that prevention is better than cure!

Disclaimer: Please consult your physician before starting any treatment.

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