Sunburn dangers, prevention and treatment (plus home remedies)

Sunburns can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

Sunburns can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

What you need to know:

  • The best way to prevent sunburns is always using sunscreen and staying in the shade when you are outdoors.
  • If you get a sunburn, make sure your skin gets a break from exposure to the sun and use home remedies to relieve pain and itching.
  • Your doctor may recommend that you take antibiotics if your burned area is infected.

You have been at the beach all day, your skin is starting to sting, feel hot as it starts to burn. That is a sunburn.

Sunburns are the result of overexposure to sunlight which causes your skin cells to burn and peel. Sunburns occur because there is not enough time for your skin cells to replace themselves before they are burned by the sun.

If you have had a sunburn, you are familiar with the pain of peeling skin and how itchy it is to touch. In addition, sunburns can lead to other health problems like cancer.

Symptoms of a sunburn

  • Burning pain
  • Red skin that may appear hot and irritated with swelling, peeling, and blistering.
  • After a few days, itchy red areas of the skin might also develop blisters filled with fluid or pus.
  • Headache
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Nausea and weakness

What to do

Find shade immediately. Exposure to the sun can affect your body temperature, so keep yourself cool with cold compresses, non-alcoholic beverages, or ice packs on the affected area.

Apply aloe Vera gel

Aloe Vera gel can have a cooling effect on burning skin. Cut the leaf and spread the transparent gel over the sunburn.

Another remedy is apple cider vinegar. It has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the redness and swelling of the area while soothing itchy regions. It also speeds up the healing of your skin while relieving the pain from the burn.

Hydrate

Drink lots of water and avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages as they can dehydrate you further. If the pain is extreme, take over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for relief. You can ask your doctor for stronger medications for pain relief.

Medication

Your doctor may recommend that you take antibiotics if your burned area is infected.

Risks of continued sunburn exposure

Sunburns can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

Other hazards include premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, and dark spots.

It can lead to cataracts later in life and macular degeneration, a disease that causes loss of vision.

Sunburn prevention

Sunscreen

Using sunscreen every day will protect you from sunburns because it contains chemicals or ingredients that absorb UV rays.

The best type of sunscreen has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) value of at least 30. Make sure you apply it 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating for maximum protection. It's also a good idea to avoid being in the sun during peak sun hours, between 11 am and 3 pm.

Clothing

Long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses with UV protection can protect you from sunburns. It is also recommended that you wear a wide-brimmed hat as it can protect your face from harmful UVA and UVB rays as well.

If you already have a sunburn, avoid going to the sun for a few days. If you must be in the sun, wear clothes that completely cover your skin and use sunscreen with an SPF higher than 30.

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