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How To Treat Sunburns

Dermatologists all agree that prevention is always better than cure when it comes to sunburn. Even when you take precautions, it is still possible to make a mistake, which means it's vital to have the proper resources on hand so you can manage your skin as best you can.

What is sunburn?

Overexposure to UV radiation can cause sunburn, an acute inflammatory reaction. It results in inflammation and the death of skin cells by directly damaging DNA. Equatorial regions and high altitudes pose a greater danger, especially for people with fair skin. A childhood or adolescent sunburn increases the chance of subsequently developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

How do you know if you have sunburn?

Sunburn signs and symptoms often appear 2–6 hours after sun exposure and peak 12–24 hours later. Blisters may develop, and the skin may become hot, red, swollen, painful, etc. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and subsequent skin infections can occur with severe sunburns. Rarely, it could prove lethal.

What to do if you get caught out in the sun

Stay in the shade and cover the affected areas until your sunburn has healed. Over the sunburned areas, wear loose cotton garments so that your skin may “breathe”.

Sunburn-related discomfort and inflammation can be reduced with analgesia or medications. If there are no contraindications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, should be taken for at least 48 hours. Although paracetamol can reduce pain, it has little impact on inflammation.

Take a cool bath or shower or apply a cool compress to the skin for 15 minutes, such as a cloth soaked with cool water. Try to maintain a temperature that is slightly below lukewarm. Make sure the water in the shower is flowing slowly rather than at full force. A bath is better if blisters are beginning to form. When you get out, gently pat your skin dry rather than rubbing it.

Apply a fragrance-free cream or lotion to the skin to calm it after a bath or shower. To lessen the look of peeling, this must be applied repeatedly, and it may take many weeks to see results. Gels or lotions with aloe vera or soy might be helpful for calming the skin. In addition to cooling down the skin, aloe vera also functions as an anti-inflammatory. Applying creams or lotions containing petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine should be avoided. These may irritate the skin locally or trap heat in the skin.

Fluid loss via the skin can be exacerbated by a sunburn. Dehydration can be avoided and your body will recover naturally if you consume lots of water. Ideally, avoid drinking alcohol during this time because it will worsen dehydration.

A light steroid cream, such as 0.5-1% hydrocortisone, used for 48 hours may lessen sunburn-related pain and swelling while also speeding up the healing process. Little ones ought to avoid this at all costs.

Avoid popping blisters to prevent infection and scarring. After a few days, they will settle by themselves. Treat the skin gently in the interim.

When to seek medical help for sunburn?

Sunburns that are severe necessitate immediate medical attention. It’s critical to get medical help if you experience blisters that cover up to 20% of your body’s surface area, fever, nausea, chills, intense pain, headache, dizziness, or fainting. Heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which are serious illnesses, can coexist with severe sunburn.

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