How to Treat a Severe Sunburn

protective sun cream on a woman's shoulder

We’ve all been there. It’s hot outside and nothing feels better than lounging in the cool water of the pool. Maybe you’re grilling outside during a weekend pool party or napping on the beach while on vacation. Whatever the scenario, there’s a good chance you forgot to reapply sunscreen and have now turned a color of red that resembles a lobster.

A study by the Skin Cancer Foundation reported that 42% of all adults received a sunburn at least once in the last year. What’s scary is that just one severe sunburn in a person’s life more than doubles the chances of developing melanoma at some point. So how do you know if your sunburn is severe and what do you do to treat it?

In addition to the color change in your skin, a severe sunburn can include symptoms such as chills, fever, nausea or vomiting. Often a sunburn that’s severe will blister and begin to peel within 4-7 days of exposure.

As soon as you get indoors after receiving a sunburn, it’s smart to apply a sunburn gel or cream. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may also be helpful. If your burn is severe enough to require medical treatment, your doctor may prescribe stronger medication, antibiotics or silver sulfadiazine. It is important to stay well hydrated and monitor for signs of worsening symptoms.

There are a few things you can do to prevent future burns as well, including avoiding the sun, covering exposed skin, steering clear of tanning beds and using an SPF of 30 or higher. If you’re outdoors for a long period of time or getting in and out of water, you should reapply sunscreen frequently.

If you believe your sunburn is severe enough for medical attention, consider visiting Denton Regional Urgent Care. We offer convenient hours and online check-in to provide you a quick and easy experience.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.


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