Q:  We went to the last weekend and got royally sunburned.  What’s the best way to deal with it?

A:  Sunburn is skin damage from the ultraviolet rays from the sun.  Most sunburns are first degree burns, which affect only the outer layer of skin.  If it blisters and swells up, that means that deeper skin layers and nerve endings have been damaged.  These are second degree burns.  This type is more painful and takes longer to heal.  There have been studies that have shown most of the risk for skin cancer from sunburns is higher for those with a few severe burns, rather than many first degree burns.  Use cool cloths on the sunburned areas.  Cool showers usually help.  Apply aloe vera to the sunburned areas.  Sunburns can cause a mild fever and headache.  Lying in a cool room will help the headache.  It is also important to take in lots of fluids.   Anti inflammatory medication, such as Motrin, will also help.  Lotion usually helps, only when the skin peels.  Don’t try to break open any blisters- just leave them alone.  Avoid clothes or shoes that rub on the blisters, until they have healed.  If you develop signs of infection, such as increased pain, redness, red streaks, pus or fever, you probably need to be seen in the office.  It is best to avoid getting sunburned in the first place.

Dr. Rick Casey

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