The most important part of dealing with sunburn, is to prevent then in the first place. Correctly using sunscreen will help prevent burns. Sunburns are not caused by heat but instead by the sun’s UV radiation. That’s why the weather forecasts in the summer usually include a UV Index which is an indication of the risk of sunburn.
Here are the steps for dealing with a sunburn:
- Get out of the sun. Your body will continue to burn making the sunburn worse.
- Look for blisters. Blistering means the burn is deeper than just the surface. This is referred to as a 2nd degree burn and complications are likely. If the area with blisters is bigger than 10% of the body surface (just a tip, your palm is 1% of your body surface), it’s important to get medical attention.
- Take a cool shower or bath to soothe the pain and cool the skin
- Apply aloe or another water soluble cooling agent. Whatever you use – DO NOT EVER APPLY BUTTER OR OIL TO ANY BURN!!!
- Over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used for the pain of a sunburn. If stronger pain relief is needed, contact a physician or go to the emergency department.
- Burns cause swelling. Burns to the face and neck may swell enough to affect the persons breathing. If that happens, call 911 immediately.
- A burn that encircles a body part such as leg, arm, hands or feet, may cause enough swelling to restrict blood flow in the limb. If the limb becomes numb, pin’s and needles sensation, turns blue, cold, or “falls asleep,” then call 911 immediately.
- Too much sun can also cause heat illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It’s important to learn to recognize and manage these conditions. Take a first aid course to learn ways to manage these emergency situations.
- As always, if you’re not sure you are dealing with a serious problem, call 911!!