Florida’s not called the Sunshine State for nothing. Maybe you’re getting ready to head to the beach, go sunbathing, or play some outdoor sports. But if you haven’t put on enough sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection, you or your loved ones may be vulnerable to sunburn.
Sunburns are usually just a minor annoyance when they happen. But when you stay out for a little too long, you might underestimate just what the sun’s rays can do. Here is some useful information about sunburns and when to seek medical attention.
Sunburn Causes and Symptoms
Sunburn is caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and is characterized by skin redness and pain. It is a type of skin damage that is often sensitive to the touch. Sunburn typically starts off as a mild irritation hours after sun exposure. It can then blister and peel as it starts to progress and heal. Minor, uncomplicated cases of sunburn usually last about a week.
Severity of Sunburn
- The least severe and most common case of sunburn is a first-degree burn which affects the first layer of the skin.
- After prolonged exposure to the sun, second-degree burns can occur. This affects the lower layers of the skin and can cause blistering.
- Third-degree burns affect the deeper skin tissues and is rarely caused by a sunburn. These types of burns often result in scarring.
Mild sunburn can be treated at home. Some ways to treat most types of sunburn include:
- Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water and fluids.
- Placing a cold or cool compress over the affected area or taking a cold bath.
- Taking over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve the pain and inflammation.
- Moisturizing the skin with a cooling, aloe vera gel as it heals.
When to Seek Medical Attention
In some cases, sunburn can be severe enough to warrant medical attention. This is sometimes referred to as sun poisoning. Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:
- Severe pain that covers a large portion of the body
- Feeling extremely fatigued or fainting
- Fever, or a temperature greater than 101.4° F
- Severe blisters or blisters that become infected
- Confusion, headache, or dizziness
- Visual changes such as blurriness
- Severe sunburn that doesn’t improve after a few days or worsens
- Severe sunburn along with other medical conditions such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, etc.
Always call your doctor or seek medical attention if you are experiencing a severe sunburn. At-home treatments may not be enough to help a sunburn, especially if it worsens. Still, it’s important to be prepared when you get some sun. Remember to wear sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection, wear protective clothing, or seek shade if you can, to prevent sunburn. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any concerns on how to treat your sunburn.