Sunburn: Doesn’t Sound Like An Emergency to Me?

Unprotected exposure to the sun, even for as little as 15 minutes, can lead to sunburn. First aid for sunburn is an essential skill this summer. Read on and learn more about how to treat sunburn.

Not all emergencies are as bad as we expect it to be. But it’s never a reason to neglect them altogether. One first aid situation that often gets neglected is sunburn. People can get sunburn when they are exposed to the sun unprotected for some time. But since its symptoms are usually minor, such as redness of skin, people tend to pay no attention to it. Knowing the first aid for sunburn is important to prevent the condition from worsening and avoid unwanted discomforts later on.

What are the signs of sunburn?

Sunburn is basically a burn that does not often appear serious. It is much like the burns caused by fire, contact with hot surface (curling iron, hot iron, or hot stove), or exposure to other forms of thermal energies. The main difference is that sunburn is due to over-exposure to the sun’s radiation and it occurs more gradually.

Sunburns are classified as first-degree burns that can cause the skin to turn red and painful. The skin may start to peel off a day after the sunburn. In some cases, especially in prolonged unprotected exposure to the sun, the underlying layer of the skin can be burned too (considered as second-degree burn). This more severe form of sunburn can lead to blisters and swelling of the skin. Exposure to the sun rarely causes third-degree burns. Regardless of the severity of the burn, providing appropriate first aid for sunburn can greatly improve the outcome.

Icing the neck for a sunburn

Icing the neck for a sunburn

How to prevent sunburns?

The simplest way to prevent sunburn is to prevent over-exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun. If you need to stay under the sun for some time, make sure to wear protection such as long-sleeved clothing and parts, or to apply sunscreen to skin.

If you have sunburn, do not take hot showers or hot bath to avoid aggravating the condition. As much as possible, minimize your exposure to the sun or protect your skin when exposed to the sun.

How to treat sunburn?

First, get under a shade to protect your skin from burning further. Mild sunburn can easily turn into a severe one with prolonged exposure to the sun. If you think you are at risk of developing sunburn, unless you really want to have a second-degree burn.

Keep the affected site cool by taking a cold shower or a bath. This soothes the skin and provides temporary relief. DO NOT apply butter or petroleum jelly on your skin. Increase your fluid intake to keep the skin well-hydrated.

Usually, minor burns heal in week’s time. But in case of severe burns, seek professional treatment to manage discomforts associated with it. First aid for sunburn and traditional remedies to burn should not be used as substitute for professional medical care.


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