Summer draws people outdoors to enjoy fun in the sun. But not every aspect of summertime weather can be pleasant, especially when sunburn rears its blistery head.
Despite the health warnings about sun exposure, people still venture outdoors repeatedly without the use of a protective product with a high enough SPF. Side effects of failing to protect the skin can include nasty burns and an increased risk of skin cancer later in life. Perhaps individuals fail to take sunburns seriously because they don't associate sunburns with anything dangerous. But sunburn is just like any other burn and the skin pays the price.
Most people wouldn't intentionally set fire to their skin or play with caustic chemicals. But they will spend hours in the sun unprotected. Just like the flames of a fire, the sun can cause serious burns, even second- and third-degree ones. A second-degree burn causes not only damage to the epidermis, or the outer layer of skin, but extends deeper into the dermis as well. A third-degree burn seriously harms the entire epidermis and dermis, as well as nerves and fatty tissue contained within, according to The Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Because the epidermis and hair follicles are destroyed, new skin will not grow.
Sunburn can occur after roughly 15 to 30 minutes of exposure to the sun. The burn itself may not show up for hours later, which is why people often think they've avoided a burn. The results of sunburn are often pain, redness and potential blistering, depending on the level of damage. Although there is no specific treatment for sunburn, there are some remedies that can help the pain and help to speed up recovery.
* Drink plenty of water. Damaged skin may not be able to properly inhibit the loss of moisture from the body, resulting in dehydration. Drinking water can replenish fluids needed for comfort and health.
* Over-the-counter pain medications may alleviate the stubborn pain. If the pain is very severe, consult a physician, who might feel prescription-strength pain relievers are necessary. There also are topical pain-relief sprays that temporarily dull the pain and cool the skin.
* Cool, wet compresses as well as lotions that soothe can also be helpful and reduce swelling. Look for ones with natural ingredients, such as aloe vera.
* Oral antihistamines can help when the skin eventually starts to peel and becomes itchy.
* If blisters are present, leave them be until they break on their own. Prematurely breaking sunburn blisters can increase the risk of infection. An antibiotic cream may be applied after the blisters break to speed up healing and prevent infection.
* If the sunburn is severe or accompanied by a fever, consult a physician.
The best way to treat sunburn is not to get it in the first place. This means being diligent about applying sunblock before going outdoors.