Sunburn is the redness, soreness, itching, and sometimes blistering that occurs after your skin has too much exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun or a sunlamp.
You may become sunburned when:
It doesn't have to be hot or even sunny for you to become sunburned. You can get sunburned when it's cloudy.
One of the problems with sunburn is that you may not have any symptoms until a few hours after you have been burned. The symptoms are:
Within a couple of days, your skin may itch. In about a week the skin may peel.
There is a form of severe sunburn called sun poisoning. It appears to be a total body reaction to the sunburn. It can cause symptoms of fever and chills, nausea, headache, dehydration, and lightheadedness.
It may help to:
If you have just a few shallow blisters, treat them like a minor household burn. You can apply some antibiotic ointment, such as bacitracin, and then cover the blistered area with a bandage.
Don't try to open the blisters. Let them open on their own, when the underlying skin can better protect itself from infection.
If you are not sure about how severe your blisters are or whether they are becoming infected, check with your healthcare provider. Signs of infection are increased redness or pain, and yellow discharge from the blisters.
If you think you may have sun poisoning, you should follow the treatment for sunburn. Be sure to also drink plenty of fluids, such as water, juice, and tea. Don’t drink alcohol.
The symptoms of sunburn usually worsen 24 to 48 hours after you are burned. The symptoms gradually go away over the next few days.
Sunburn causes long-term damage to the skin. Redness alone is the same as a first-degree burn. Redness with blistering is a second-degree burn. Both types of sunburn are harmful to the skin and over time increase the risk of skin cancer. Blistering burns increase the risk of malignant skin cancer (melanoma) by several times. This is especially true if you have severe sunburns 3 or more times when you are a teen or young adult.
Too much sun exposure, even without sunburn, also causes the skin to age faster. Wrinkles, sagging, and brown sunspots develop at an earlier age.
Call your provider if you have any of the following symptoms:
There are many ways and many products to prevent sunburn. To prevent sunburn:
Sunlight also damages the eyes and increases your risk for certain types of vision loss or blindness when you get older. Wear sunglasses that provide 100% UV ray protection.