Sunburn results when the amount of exposure to the sun or other ultraviolet light source exceeds the ability of the body’s protective pigment, melanin, to protect the skin. You can be sunburned on a cloudy or overcast day as well as a clear sunny day. The risk for sunburn is increased for persons with fair-skin, blue eyes and red or blond hair. Persons taking some medications including sulfa drugs, tetracyclines, some diuretics are at risk.
1. Hot, red skin
2. Red eyes and sensitivity to light.
3. Blisters on the skin.
4. Skin flaking
Keep it cool. Apply cold compresses — such as a towel dampened with cool water — to the affected skin. Or take a cool bath.
Keep it moist. Apply aloe, moisturizing cream or over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to the affected 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.
Leave 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.
Take 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.
Treat 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.
To prevent future episodes of sunburn, use sunscreen frequently and liberally. Common sense counts, too. Cover up while you’re outdoors, and stay in the shade as much as possible.