Treat your sunburn right away to reduce the pain of hot dry skin

Sunburn can happen any time of the year but is most common in the summer when the sun is strongest. Summer brings beach filled days, hiking, biking and other fun-in-the-sun activities. Sunburns are reactions of the skin to excessive sun exposure. While other types of burns may be apparent immediately, the signs and symptoms of sun damage generally appear within a few hours (three to five hours) of the sun exposure.

Common signs of too much sun exposure are redness, swelling and sometimes blistering occurs in more severe burns. Common symptoms include pain, fever and itching. First aid treatment is symptomatic, so follow this advice when you get sunburned.


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  • get out of the sun into a cool place
  • apply cool compresses
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • use over the counter pain medications
  • apply aloe vera or other hydrating fragrance free lotion

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  • use sunscreen on sunburned skin
  • put ice on the sunburned area
  • use home remedies
  • break blisters
  • go outside without sunscreen

[publishpress_authors_data]'s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do get out of the sun into a cool place

The first step of sunburn treatment is to remove yourself from the offending environment. The time of day that increases your risk for sun overexposure is from 10am-4pm. Sunburns are more common in children than adults because their skin is more sensitive. Greater than 30 percent of adults and 70 percent of people less than 18 years old report at least one sunburn within a 12 month period. When you feel or suspect a sunburn, get out of the sun and into a cool place.

Do apply cool compresses

Apply cool compresses on the sunburned area or take a cool bath. Cooling the skin gently may help relieve some of the pain and cool hot dry skin.

Do drink plenty of fluids

Excessive sun exposure can lead to dehydration. Dehydration may be associated with fever, headaches, confusion, nausea vomiting and fainting. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate your body.

Do use over the counter pain medications

Treatment with oral pain relievers and topical spray or lotion pain relievers may decrease the discomfort of a sunburn. Over the counter pain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can be used to symptomatically treat the pain.

Do apply aloe vera or other hydrating fragrance free lotion

Overexposure to the sun may cause drying of the skin. Dry skin may itch and add to the discomfort experienced. Use aloe vera or other hydrating lotions, but make sure to use lotion that is fragrance-free. Lotions with fragrance may have harmful chemicals that could increase the pain associated with a sunburn and slow the healing process.

[publishpress_authors_data]'s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not use sunscreen on sunburned skin

A sunburn will begin to heal in about 72 hours from the time symptoms appear. Sun should be avoided until the sunburn is healed. Apply sunscreen only after the skin is healed and before going out in the sun.

Do not put ice on the sunburned area

Cool, not very cold compresses should be applied to sunburned skin. Ice applied directly to sunburned area may cause the blood vessels underneath the top layer of skin to narrow or constrict and lead to less blood flow and may delay healing.

Do not use home remedies

Avoid home remedies like butter or Vaseline as they might prevent or delay healing by trapping heat and delay healing.

Do not break blisters

In more severe sunburns, blisters may develop. If blisters do develop, they should not be ruptured. If they rupture spontaneously, an over the counter antibiotic ointment may be applied. If signs of redness or pain persist, you should seek the advice of a doctor.

Do not go outside without sunscreen

Natural protection from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation is melanin. Melanin (pigment) gives skin its color; less melanin makes skin appear light while increased melanin makes skin appear darker. Generally, people with lighter skin are at greater risk of sunburn. Sunscreen helps protect against ultraviolet radiation.


A single mild sunburn is not likely to cause much damage long term, but repeated sunburns may increase the risk of skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. Lighter skin is at increased risk for developing skin cancers. Repeated sun overexposure may also lead to cosmetic problems such as wrinkles.

Treatments for sunburn focus on symptom management. It is important to remember that while symptomatic treatment may provide some relief, it doesn’t decrease the risk of skin cancers.

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