Do you know how to treat sunburn? Your sunburn? With all this awareness that I now have about how sunburn harms your skin, I don’t even know how to treat sunburn should I get one!
Sure, I know what we have always done. But is that the best way to treat sunburn? So I went to check out several of my first aid references to see what those in the know were suggesting. Maybe we need to change the way we treat sunburns.
I did not always know that just a low dose of the Tylenol or Asprin would help. If you have a way to drive before reaching home after a day in the sun, you should cool the exposed skin with a cool wet rag, as well as the relief medication before heading home.
Something I did not realize is that you may not realize you have a sunburn for a few hours. You may feel fine when you first leave the sun fun places. As you drive home from the beach or lake, you may be nearly home before you feel the effects of too much sun.
Having some first aid to use after the sun exposure will ease you into your healing time so much easier. After removing your swimsuit, a quick shower, if they are available will send you home more comfortable. Don’t wait until the sunburn is evident to treat it. Get a jump on your treatment for your skin, and take care of it before you become uncomfortable.
More information: Sunburn What Is It
An important first aid step is to drink plenty of water. This helps rehydrate you and give your body something to work with in the effort to take care of you. It is a simple thing, but so often overlooked.
The other thing for your first aid treatment before heading home? A topical cream or aloe vera treatment for sunburned skin. Make sure there are no petroleum products in the first aid treatment as they may cause a deeper skin burn. These products, like vaseline, will hold the heat and not allow the skin to cool. If there happens to be alcohol in the petroleum-based cream there is a definite chance for more burn. Read the label!
Your youngsters will be happier when you reach home if you take a bit of first aid to apply before heading home. Seems like my kids were always hot, tired, and cranky. They had a Mom who didn’t have a clue about how to help them. We could have all had a better ride home had we been aware.
Suggestion For First Aid Kit
So go prepared with some first aid before you leave home. This makes the drive back home better for all. In hindsight, a small foam cooler would have been a great first aid kit! Put in some ice, bottles of water. Clean dry washcloth for each of us. A tube of sunburn ointment.
The ice would have melted, but the water would be cool still, the cloths could be wet with the melted ice and would feel good patted on faces and shoulders. The cream, cool to apply to tender skin. How hard would that be to do?
If this treatment keeps your skin comfortable, and there are no blisters on your skin. Nor any sign of more serious conditions like headaches, dizziness, fever or chills, you should be able to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Recommended First Aid
- Drink water
- Shower in a cool shower
- Apply ointments or creams for sunburned skin
- Take anti-inflammatories like Tylenol or Aspirin
Severe Sunburn Don’t Do
If after a few hours you aren’t more comfortable. you may have a severe sunburn. The cool showers and ointments and antiinflammatories just can’t seem to reduce the pain? You probably have a severe sunburn. Ooh no, now what?
Let’s start first with what not to do:
- Don’t pop blisters on your skin. They need to heal at their own pace. This can cause infection.
- Avoid alcohol-based creams on your skin. This stops heat from escaping and may make the burn worse.
- Don’t peel the skin off as it heals.
- Forget scrubs on affected skin surfaces.
- Allow the skin to fall off in the shower, on your bed, or as you towel dry after the shower.
Be very wise about going back out in the sun without a sun blocking wide brimmed hat or long sleeved shirt or long pants. Help your skin heal before re-exposing to the direct sun’s rays.
Don’t forget to drink lots of water.
Severe sunburn can include one or all of these symptoms:
- Blistering over large areas of face, shoulders, back, chest, arms and legs
- Burn that also includes a high fever
- A great deal of almost unbearable pain
- Headache, confusion, and vision problems along with your burn
- Nausea and chills
- Severe dehydration (fluid loss) which can cause dizziness and unsteadiness when on your feet.
Realize that you have a dangerous condition, and can suffer complications if you don’t get help. If you are not feeling better and your sunburn getting more comfortable in two days, it is time to seek medical help. You could have had sunstroke or you may have an infection. Either condition needs medical evaluation and treatment.
Sunburn and Heat-Related Illness
In our part of the world, here in central Texas we often expect to have sunburn when out in the sun over a longer period of time. Our heat, and humidity, with the direct suns rays between 10 AM and 4 PM seem a sure combination for sunburn. Our kids often have light symptoms of another heat-related condition, heatstroke.
We all seem to expect to get sunburned, but when the symptoms of heatstroke appear, we need to educate our kids as well as ourselves. If our kids are involved in sports that practice outside in the hot times of the year, they need to know how to protect themselves.
We as parents need to know that those coaches are heat aware. Often the gruelling exercises that our country seems to worship can be dangerous. Public schools have few facilities for our kids to exercise and condition in comfort. Our kids have the heat and humidity. Other kids have cold weather conditions that can also be dangerous.
However, this site and information are to help you with sunburn and how to treat the symptoms. When to seek medical help. That is why I am including this bit about heat strokes. It is not actually all sunburned skin related but often occurs in the same setting. Skin Cancer Kills
As you are getting some basic information in your mind about this sun-sunburn-heat-related condition, please remember that this information is not to be instead of a Doctors visit.
This is to help you decide if an office call is a good idea. I do not profess to be any more than a concerned Mom sharing information that helps me feel better about the sun and heat in our part of the world.
Symptoms Of Heatstroke:
- A body temperature of 104*- remember home thermometers are not always accurate. Recognize that a temp above 102* can cause problems.
- Cramps in major muscles and weakness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- A very fast heart rate
- Shallow and rapid breathing, kind of a soft pant movement
- Headache and extreme headaches
- Seizures, confusion, hallucinations, or difficulty speaking
- Not sweating despite hot external temperatures
The other important thing to keep in mind is that a bad sunburn will increase the risk of heatstroke for your kids and yourself. Damaged skin will not sweat and cool as well as healthy skin.
A big part of treating a sunburn involves staying out of the sun and or heat. Don’t go back out into the sun or heat until you’ve had a chance to heal.
While we tend to not get as excited about sunburn, as a Heatstroke, do not disregard sunburn. It will lead to skin cancer. It is a roll of the dice about how many sunburns you can have before skin cancer will develop. Treat this skin conditions with awareness. Sunburn is dangerous!
If your kids coaches knew and appreciated how dangerous skin cancer can be they might be more reasonable and arrange practice sessions with more of the kids safety in mind.
Yes, I know kids coaches think that they survived the training and exercise in the sun, these kids will too. Remember that the ozone is disappearing rapidly. This protective layer in the stratosphere was there several years ago to reflect and protect.
That layer is too thin to do the job it was designed to do. You may have to run interference between your kids’ team and their coach. It is important to protect their skin. Important to prevent skin cancer.
Sunburn And Your Zip Code
While I think that we have the most severe cases of heat-related conditions in the US, research has shown me differently. A great deal of the time heat and sun related conditions result because we don’t know.
People who live in the northern parts of the US seem to pay little attention to protecting themselves from the sun. Even on the cloudiest days, 80% of the sun’s UV rays pass through the clouds. That is 80% of the rays that will cause the worst sunburn and age your skin the quickest.
Then there are the reflections off the snow. They are also at about the 80% level as well. Add this to the fact that the nice days don’t come around as often so people tend to overdo when they get a chance to get out. These factors all add up to deeper sunburns and heat-related illnesses like heat stroke.
North Or South
If you live in Utah, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Idaho, or Wyoming, your residents reported the most cases of sunburn in adults severe enough to require medical care. (reported by the CDC for white adults) The more northerly states report the most skin cancer as well. You must take better care of yourself.
Drs think that because it is cooler, maybe not so bright or hot, people who live in the north part of the US are just not as aware of the sun damage. Even if you think it is too late for your skin, be aware that skin cancer is worse than the dry lines that happen when the sun hits your skin too much. Share with your friends and family the need to use caution regardless of where you live.
Medical Service For Sunburn
Here are some medically guided and suggested guidelines for seeking medical care. Severe sunburn accompanied by:
- Headache Fainting
- High Fever
Visit the ER if these are your symptoms.
These symptoms could indicate more serious conditions, such as heatstroke or sun poisoning. Either can be extremely dangerous. For the worst case of severe sunburn, a patient could be admitted to the hospital burn unit.
Don’t Neglect Your Health
More often, even a severe sunburn can be treated by a doctor’s office, even a walk-in clinic.
If your sunburn is severe for mainly because you have widespread blistering and puss excretion, most care facility can address and treat your condition.
For moderate fever. Or pain management. As well as dehydration and other symptoms that aren’t life-threatening can be handled by a walk-in clinic.
To help you determine the type of medical service you need, think about the timeline of your burn.
If you begin to feel sick shortly after getting out of the sun, it’s more likely that the symptoms could become life-threatening. Get help quickly.
If your severe symptoms begin to develop after twelve hours, and your first aide is not helping, please visit a doctor’s office or urgent care.
Both sets of symptoms indicate the need for more care. The earlier first aid care should be enough to bring some relief. If not, please get help. These conditions can become severe.
Usual Suggestions From Doctors
- You will be usually instructed to consume plenty of fluids.
- Apply cool compresses
- Soak in cool water.
- You could be provided intravenous therapy (IV) if dehydration is still present.
- Creams or ointment
More severe sunburn conditions
- Are often treated with pain medication
- Oral steroids
- Antibiotics if the attending physician thinks it is needed.
How To Treat Sunburn General Advice
Please remember, these are guidelines. Add this to what you are seeing and feeling and experiencing with your sunburn. Caution to the excess is preferred to ignoring what your own gut feeling is relaying. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Be aware of what can happen with too much sun. While there may not be skin cancer today, or even tomorrow, it will happen, with repeated overexposures.