How to Best Treat Sunburns

Comprehensive Cancer Centers is dedicated to cancer prevention and provides resources, such as nutrition and lifestyle advice to promote good health, while lowering cancer risks. Our efforts regarding skin cancer prevention include information on sun safety, as well as through providing free sunscreen at kiosks at popular locations throughout Southern Nevada.

While we do urge prevention and risk management, we do understand that sometimes treatment has to become the focus, whether it’s for a cancer diagnosis or for sunburns. This holds especially true in our warm and sunny climate with sunburns. Sunburns can happen 365 days per year, depending on exposure, with more burns occurring in the hot summer months when even a small amount of exposure to the sun can be dangerous for your skin.

You can get sunburned if you are exposed to the sun without using proper protection from sunscreen, clothes, sunglasses and hats. Sunburn risk increases if you don’t reapply sunscreen often, as one application will not help if you spend significant time in the sun’s rays. Remember to reapply sunscreen often. Should a sunburn occur, the following suggestions can help reduce the pain and the accelerate healing process:

Get Moving – As soon as you notice a sunburn, get out of the sun immediately and start treating the burn. Some people may think that once they’re burned, it can’t get any worse, but burns can increase in severity with additional exposure. The best place to get away from the sun after a burn in indoors.

  • Hydrate and Hydrate Often –Keep drinking water regularly to maintain access to moisture for your burned skin, while making sure the rest of your body doesn’t get dehydrated as the thirsty skin draws water from your system. As soon as you get indoors, have a large glass of water.
  • Rinse Off – Cool baths and/or showers will help relieve the pain and sooth your skin. When getting out of the water, gently dry yourself, but also leave some water on your skin. Use moisturizer on the wet skin to keep it hydrated.
  • Moisturize – There are many moisturizers available, but stick to ones with aloe vera or soy-based moisturizers. You can use hydrocortisone products without a prescription if the burn is particularly painful.
  • Stay Covered – If you need to leave the indoors, make sure your burned skin is properly covered so it has time to heal. Hats, sunglasses and clothing dark enough so that light cannot be seen through the fabric are your best bets.
  • Aspirin Can Help – Aspirin or ibuprofen can help with pain, swelling as well as for reducing redness. Follow guidelines on packaging to ensure you don’t over use these medications to manage discomfort.
  • Leave Blisters Alone – If your sunburn was bad enough to cause blisters, leave the blisters alone as they heal.  Resist the temptation to pop the blisters, as this will not accelerate healing and can lead to infections.
  • Doctors and Dermatologists – If blisters cover substantial portions of the skin, see a doctor for treatment immediately. Consulting your dermatologist is also a good idea, letting them know about any major burns suffered so they can adjust their screenings during checkups. Dermatologists can also offer insights into appropriate sunscreens, and sun safety.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers urges you to be sun smart to avoid burns in the future – even in the winter months. If your dermatologist does find any issues during exams, our team is glad to offer follow up care upon referral.

To schedule an appointment with a physician at Comprehensive Cancer Centers regarding skin cancer, call 702-952-3350.

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.