How To Treat A Bad Sunburn Fast will become a priority for you if you get a sunburn at all. Any sunburn is bad. Some are just the “badest.”
If you do get a sunburn, take a moment to figure out how bad it is. What kind of treatment can I do at home? Is this the best answer to how to treat a bad sunburn fast? Do I know what to expect when I treat my sunburn myself?
What does the medical community consider a bad sunburn? See the deep red streaks under the blisters in the image above? This indicates a deeper burn. If there is a deep sunburn, there will usually be more than just one or 2 blisters. This man’s sunburn is bordering on the very bad sunburn stage.
The sunburn on the man in the image is probably 2 to 3 days old. You will need to rely on other symptoms besides the blisters for the first 24 hours. Symptoms like deep red, cooked looking, and dry angry hurting skin are the visual symptoms. Feeling sick and having fever, chills, and nausea will be warnings as well.
To Treat This Sunburn Fast, Get Out Of The Sun!
To Treat this sunburn fast, you simply must get out of the sun!
- Get yourself into a cool space. Shade and air conditioner are needed.
- You can take a cool, but not cold shower or bath. Don’t use high water pressure in a shower as it will be uncomfortable on your skin.
- Or use cool compresses on your forehead, back of your neck, under your arms, and lightly on your burned areas.
- Take a couple of Tylenol
- Start drinking more water.
- Loosen any tight clothing
Are you having chills or fever, a headache, or dizziness? What about severe nausea, and dehydration, call 911 or get help getting some medical help. This is beyond what is safely cared for at home.
I know that “Used to” we treated all stages of sunburn at home. Put the patient to bed, a little time and an extra nap was what was normally done for those with sunburn. I don’t think we even offered aspirin.
This form of treatment did not kill anyone, at least as far as we knew. Can you imagine how much we damaged their skin, and delayed recovery?
Following Some Medical Community Advice Would Be Wise
Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, recognized as the best hospital in the US for 2021 and 2022 by US News & World Report offers the following at-home treatment for sunburn:
Once your sunburn occurs, there is little you can do to limit the original damage to your skin. Following these tips might reduce your pain, swelling, and discomfort as well as do more damage to your skin:
- Take a pain reliever. For your pain, take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen like Advil, Motrin IB, or naproxen sodium as in Aleve as soon as possible after sun exposure. This will keep you more comfortable and reduce the urge to scratch as your skin heals. According to Mayo Clinic, some pain relievers are gels that you apply to your skin.
- Cool your skin. Dab a clean towel dampened with cool tap water on the sunburned skin area. Or take a cool bath, not cold, but cool, adding about 2 ounces of baking soda, stirred till dissolved in the water. This treatment can be repeated to keep the skin cool, several times a day.
- Apply a moisturizer, lotion, or gel. An aloe vera lotion or gel or calamine lotion might be soothing. Read the label, and make sure the product contains no petroleum products. Nothing like vaseline that will form a seal over the affected area. Heat needs to escape. This could cause a deeper wound.
- Drink water to prevent becoming a victim of dehydration.
Some extra rest is advisable as you are shifting into the healing mode.
“How To Treat Bad Sunburn” Suggestions For Caring For Your Damaged Skin
Mayo Clinic goes on to share some information to help your skin heal while the sunburn pain is healing:
- Don’t break intact the blisters that rise up on purpose. If a blister does break, clean the area with mild soap and water. Then apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound and cover it with a nonstick bandage. Remember to read the label of the ointment to make sure there are no petroleum products used. Also, use fragrance-free medications and moisturizers to help your damaged skin heal.
- Treat skin gently as it heals from sunburn. Within a few days, the affected area may begin to peel. This is how your body can get rid of that top layer of damaged skin. While your skin is peeling, continue to moisturize. Care should be taken to use a moisturizing product for sensitive skin with no perfumes to irritate, burn or sting your skin.
- Take an anti-itch drug. An oral antihistamine such as diphenhydramine may help relieve your itching as the skin begins to peel and heal underneath. Wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid irritation of your skin with damage.
- Always protect your sunburn from further sun exposure. While your skin heals, stay out of the sun. Protect your skin if you do go out.
- Don’t use ‘-caine’ products, such as benzocaine. Such creams can irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction. Benzocaine has been linked to a rare but potentially deadly condition that lowers the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry, known as methemoglobinemia.
- Don’t use benzocaine in caring for children younger than age 2, for any reason, without supervision from a health care professional. If you’re an adult, never use more than the recommended dose. Talk with your doctor before using it.
Not Responding To Suggested Home Treatment?
It is true that most sunburns heal fine on their own. However, getting checked out by a medical professional is suggested if you are still having symptoms in a couple of days, and feel healing is not really happening.
When going in to see your primary care doctor, or whoever you go see, list the medications you’re taking, including vitamins, herbs, and over-the-counter drugs. Some drugs can increase your sensitivity to UV light, causing the sunburn you have.
Help your doctor give you the best care possible.
When Sunburn Might Require Medical Attention?
Mayo Clinic’s Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D. suggests seeing a doctor for sunburn symptoms if:
- Your sunburn is severe. If you have blisters or the skin that is damaged covers a large portion of your body.
- The sunburn also has a high fever, headache, severe pain, dehydration, confusion, nausea, or chills going on. These symptoms need extra help.
- You’re developing a skin infection, with swelling, pus, or red streaks leading from the blister. The image at the top of this article has deep red streaks.
- Your sunburn just isn’t responding to your at-home care.
Your doctor may suggest a corticosteroid cream for your sunburn.
Sometimes you may need a short course of prednisone for severe cases involving large areas of your body. Antibiotics are not usually required unless you develop an infection.
Helping your skin stay moisturized will help with controlling the infection.
How to treat a bad sunburn, fast is a combination of common sense and the ability to get some rest, and drink lots of fluids. You should be alright in a few days.
However, should you have any questions, check with your primary care doctor. Be safe rather than sorry!
Sun blocking clothing is an effective way to help prevent future sunburns. Each one you get takes you a step closer to skin cancer and melanoma. Combining the protection of sunscreen and protective clothing to prevent sunburn can help you reduce your risks.
Sami’s Take On How To Treat A Bad Sunburn Fast
A lifetime of too much sun and unprotected skin makes me aware of how dangerous the sun can be
Had we known when I was young what the results of too much sun would be, I like to think we would have protected ourselves better. Maybe not, but, I like to think I would have been more careful.
Living in an agricultural-based part of the world, and in the country, I rode a school bus to school. Our bus driver, Mr. Singleton sponsored a get-together at the end of school at a public swimming place that was about 30 or so miles north of our home.
The water was really cold and a natural spring with a really big pool, or so it seemed to me. We had little flowing water in our area so this was a very big treat to go to this party. We carried a picnic lunch, all the neighbors went. Most of the kids on the route.
At the end of the 6th grade, I got a sunburn. Miserable, fever-inducing sunburn. It didn’t really sink into my thinking that this was caused by being in the sun too much! I don’t think my parents were aware of the results of sunburn.
The ability to collect data and review it and analyze it to find who and when people had problems after sunburn has brought awareness. Please use this information to help you and your family stay healthy.
Help Your Family Become More Aware Of Sun Safety
Make sure your family members, even the younger ones know about wearing a sunhat, sunglasses, and the sun blocking shirt. Help them to know about staying out of the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM during the warmer times of the year.
Teach your family about the “shadow.”
If they are playing outside and their shadow is longer than they are tall, they are in a safe outside time.
If their shadow is shorter than they are, they are getting into an unsafe play outside time. If they can’t see their shadow, they should get in the house or the shade and stay until the shadow is again longer than they are tall.
These little habits can keep them safer.