Sunburn occurs after the skin has been exposed to too much UV light. This can be from natural sunlight, sunlamps, or tanning beds. Sunburn causes the skin to be red, tender, and hot to the touch. Blistering of the skin may occur.

Sunburn symptoms develop with a few hours of UV exposure but may continue to progress over a day or two. You should see a healthcare provider if you experience the following:

  • Blistering sunburn that covers a large area
  • Blisters on the hands, face, or genitals
  • Severe swelling
  • Signs of infection
  • No improvement after a few days
  • Fever over 103 F
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Dehydration

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Repeated sunburn places you at risk for skin cancers and premature aging of the skin. Prevention of sunburn is critical to preventing complications. Try these methods to prevent sunburn:

  • Avoid sun exposure between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.
  • Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds
  • Wear protective clothing, including a hat
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Reapply frequently
  • Protect babies and toddlers with shade and clothing. Sunscreen is recommended beginning at six months of age
  • Wear sunglasses when outside
  • Be aware of medications that cause the skin to burn faster than average

Caring for sunburned skin may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory pain relievers
  • Cool compresses applied to the burned skin
  • Apply an aloe containing moisturizer
  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration
  • Care for peeling skin gently
  • Use anti-itch medication as the skin peels and heals underneath
  • Protect the skin from further sun exposure