How to Treat Severe Sunburn– And When to Go to The Emergency Room

How to Treat Severe Sunburn-- And When to Go to The Emergency Room

Jun 01, 2022

What Are Sunburns?

Sunburns are red patches of skin that usually appear on your face, arms, or shoulders after prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays. The sun’s UV rays are invisible, but they’re not harmless.

The skin produces melanin when exposed to Ultraviolet rays. Melanin is the pigment in your skin that protects you from sunburn. Ultraviolet rays can damage the skin by destroying the pigment that protects your skin. The sunburn symptoms range from mild to severe and can be treated at home with remedies. However, severe burns can cause other complications, and one needs to visit a qualified professional doctor for assistance.

What Are the Sunburn Symptoms?

The symptoms of sunburns can appear within hours after sun exposure, but it can take a day or more to determine the severity of the burns. The symptoms include pain and redness, burned skin, skin that feels tight and tender, swelling, and small blisters. If the burns are severe, you may experience headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Visit an ER near you if these symptoms are accompanied by fever.

What Are the Sunburn Types?

Sunburns can either be first or second degree.

  • First degree

First-degree sunburns are the most common type of sunburn. They are caused by brief exposure to the sun’s rays, such as a few minutes of direct sun on your skin. The symptoms are similar to minor sunburns, but they can last for days. First-degree sunburns appear four hours after sun exposure, and they are characterized by redness, warm feeling, swelling, or soreness. These symptoms take about a week to clear, and you can use home remedies and pain medication to ease the discomfort.

  • Secondary degree

Second-degree sunburns are caused by prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays, such as a few hours to a few days of direct sun on your skin. The sunburns penetrate past the outer layer and may affect the dermis. The symptoms include; deep red skin, white patches around the burn area, pain, and wet-looking skin, and they last longer.

When Should You Visit an Emergency Room After Sunburn?

Severe sunburns can cause serious complications if you don’t seek medical attention. The burners may blister and become infected with a bacterial infection. You may need emergency room treatment if you have a fever, feeling hot and shivery, dizziness, nausea, headaches, and muscle aches. You can use prescribed pain medications to reduce pain and inflammation and antibiotics to reduce infection.

What Are the Sunburn Treatment Options?

Sunburns usually disappear on their own within a few days. When a sunburn is mild, the skin will be red but not painful. For mild sunburns, your body will usually heal itself, and you’ll be able to handle the pain with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Cooling the skin is also recommended to ease the irritation. Cover the burned area with a damp towel or take a cool bath with baking soda several times a day.

Apply a moisturizing gel or lotion like aloe Vera or Calamine to soothe the skin. It is crucial to avoid pricking or to break the blister. If the blister breaks, clean it with water, apply an antibiotic ointment and cover the area with a nonstick bandage. You can also try taking anti-itch medication to relieve the itchiness because it causes the skin to peel.

What Complications Can Arise from Sunburns?

Severe sunburns can cause complications and can lead to permanent skin damage. The complications include blisters that are not treated properly, infections, and long-lasting pain.

Overexposure to the sun causes premature aging by accelerating the process. This is because UV light damages the dermis and weakens the connective tissues and the formation of wrinkles.

Excessive exposure to UV light without sun protection can damage the DNA cells and increase the risk of skin cancer. Eye damage can also arise because the sun can damage the retina or cornea.

Take Action

Sunburns tend to clear after a few days with home remedies. However, visit Express Emergency Room for assistance if you get severe burns.

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