Sunburn care: Treatment options

Sunburn can lead to reddening and sore blisters among those who spend long hours under the sun. Many do not treat their sunburn but this is a mistake. Once sunburn becomes intense or severe enough to require medical care, there are several treatment measures available.

Application of a cool compress

All you have to do is apply a cool washcloth or ice pack that is wrapped with a towel on the inflamed skin to provide a soothing effect. This must be done 2-3 times in a day for 10-15 minutes to reduce the redness as well as provide relief to the sunburn symptoms.

A simple trick is to moisten a washcloth and then freeze it to be applied on the sunburn. Instruct the individual to take a cool bath or shower and followed by an application of aloe vera or a moisturizing lotion to minimize the peeling and flakiness.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

When it comes to cases of sunburn that are swollen and painful, using NSAIDs can be beneficial. A commonly used medication is ibuprofen which is effective in such cases. If the individual uses the medication after intense exposure and continues with the right dosage for the next 1-2 days, the inflammation can be reduced. In case the sunburn is persistent, the doctor might prescribe a topical cortisone cream to minimize the swelling.


All you have to do is apply a cool washcloth or ice pack that is wrapped with a towel on the inflamed skin to provide a soothing effect.

Proper hydration

The inflammation of the skin and the neighboring tissues from sunburn can draw fluids away from the rest of the body and towards the affected site. It is vital to drink more fluids so that the other essential organs in the body will not end up dehydrated.

Remember that this is important if there is any associated nausea or vomiting. In case there is headache, vomiting, malaise or weakness, it is best to seek medical care since restoration of fluids might be carried out intravenously.

Blister care

For blistering sunburns, they increase the risk for skin cancer later in life. Always check the extent of the sunburn on the body. If there are blisters all over the chest or the back in an adult or one side of the face and trunk of a child, it is considered as a severe second-degree burn that requires medical care.

If it covers less than 20%, it can be managed by measures at home. Picking or popping open the blisters is not advisable since the exterior skin layer protects against infection as well as facilitates healing of the underlying skin.


Once sunburn develops, the individual should make an extra effort to be careful while under the sun. Measures that can help minimize the risk for further damage include the following:

  • Look for a shaded area to stay
  • Use sunglasses
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat
  • Application of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher every 2 hours on all exposed body parts


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