Burning the skin due to sun exposure may often require first aid treatment. Sunburns may result in permanent skin tissue damage due to the prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Both the UVA and UVB rays can damage the skin tissues. The immediate symptoms of sunburn consists of a red, tender and hot skin. The skin easily gets dehydrated causing it to become dry. When the skin is damaged due to prolonged exposure to the sun, it will be painful to touch or when rubbing the skin. Longer sun exposure may result in blister formation (2nd degree burns) and the skin swells and peel. The intense UV rays from the sun are at its peak during noontime and lasts between 10 o’clock in the morning and 4 o’clock in the afternoon. It is best to avoid being outdoors at these times to avoid skin damage to sun exposure. If you must be outdoors at these times use protective sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
Managing the Symptoms of sunburn
A damaged skin will appear hot, tender and red after sun exposure. It can also cause blisters to a more serious extent of sun damage. The skin peels and will like a burned skin. Mild sunburns are easily treated at home by applying a cold damp cloth to reduce the feeling of discomfort. If the pain is intense, you can take a pain medication like Tylenol, aspirin, ibuprofen and other over-the-counter medications for pain. It is best to avoid giving aspirin to children however or even on teenagers recovering from a flu like symptom or chicken pox.
Soaking the affected area in cold water without soap is good first aid management for a sunburn. Participants enrolled in first aid training learn that sunburns should be treated as 1st degree burns. When drying the skin from water, gently tap with soft cloth instead of rubbing the skin. You can sooth the skin by applying an aloe vera cream or moisturizing lotions. When blister occurs, it is best not to touch or pick / poke at it. It heals faster when the covering skin is intact and it also helps prevent infection. The moment the blister bursts on its own, clean the area and then apply an antiseptic or anti-bacterial cream on its surface. Avoid applying the conventional remedy of using egg whites, petroleum jelly and butter because these may delay the healing of the damaged skin tissues.
When to see a doctor
While most first aid treatments at home are effective in managing a sun damaged skin due to sunburn, it is essential to see a doctor immediately when rash appears and severe itching occurs. Sunburn can also induce fever but you should consult your physician to eliminate the possibility of other underlying medical condition that causes the fever. Sunburn is also a risk factor to skin cancer so make sure that your doctor checks for this possibility after extreme, prolonged and repeated exposure to the sun.