Bad to the Burn: Preventing and Treating Sunburns
Summer days can be all fun and games—until someone gets burned. From mild redness and tender skin to severe burns and blisters, sunburn can be uncomfortable and cause long-lasting skin damage. The best way to prevent sunburn is to limit your skin’s exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Here’s how you can be proactive about preventing sunburn and easing discomfort when it happens.
Proactive Sun Protection
Protecting your skin does not mean avoiding the sun altogether. Stepping outside to be active and enjoy the fresh air can be beneficial for your mental and physical health. To limit exposure to UV rays while outside:
Wear protective clothing, like long sleeve shirts, pants, hats, and sunglasses.
Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays.
Find shade and avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
UV rays during the summer are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is directly overhead. Stay cognizant of your sun exposure, and when in doubt, reapply your sunscreen.
Got a Bad Burn? Don’t Panic
Sunburn can be a frustrating and painful experience. Once you get burned, there’s little you can do to limit the damage to your skin. However, you can take action to ease the discomfort:
Cool the skin with a cool bath or compress.
Apply a moisturizer like aloe vera gel.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medications like naproxen sodium.
As your skin heals, reflect on what you could’ve done differently to create more effective sun protection habits moving forward.
If a sunburn is severe or causes blisters, visit your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician or a dermatologist. If symptoms of heat stress accompany your sunburn, call 911 or seek emergency medical care.