Sunburn First Aid

Sunburn should be avoided because it is damaging to the skin. Although the discomfort is usually minor and healing often occurs in about a week, a more severe sunburn may require medical attention.

Recognizing Sunburn

Symptoms of sunburn are well known: skin becomes red, painful, and abnormally warm after sun exposure.

What to Do

Consult a doctor if the sunburn affects an infant under 1 year of age or if these symptoms are present:

  • fever
  • fluid-filled blisters
  • severe pain

Also, remember these tips when treating sunburn:

  • Avoid repeated sun exposure.
  • Apply cold cloth compresses or immerse the sunburned area in cool water.
  • Apply moisturizing lotion or cream to affected areas. Do not use salve, butter, or ointment.
  • If blistering occurs, lightly apply a bandage to prevent infection.
  • Do not break blisters.
  • If the discomfort warrants, use a painkiller such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
For more, please read the Sunburn and Sun-Sensitizing Drugs article.


Last Editorial Review: 6/5/2007



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