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Health Connection: July 2015

How Should I Treat a Sunburn

Q: I try to avoid sunburns for myself and my family. But sometimes one of us gets too much sun. What should we do to treat a burn?

A: Begin treating a sunburn right away. Get indoors. Put a cold, damp towel on your skin. Do this for 10 or 15 minutes a few times daily. You can take frequent cool baths or showers to help relieve the pain. Gently pat yourself dry, but leave a little water on your skin. Then, apply a moisturizer to help trap the water in your skin. Lotions that contain aloe vera can help make your skin feel better. Don’t use lotions or creams that contain petroleum, benzocaine or lidocaine. If a particular area feels especially uncomfortable, you may want to apply a hydrocortisone cream. Ibuprofen can help reduce any swelling, redness and discomfort. Drinking extra water when you are sunburned helps prevent dehydration. Blistering skin means you have a second-degree sunburn. Allow the blisters to heal and protect you from infection. Seek medical care if you feel dizzy, weak, sick to your stomach, cold or just not yourself. Take extra care to protect sunburned skin while it heals. Wear clothing that covers your skin when outdoors. Tightly-woven fabrics work best. Avoid future sunburns. Although it may seem like a temporary condition, sunburn can cause long-lasting damage that increases a person’s risk for getting skin cancer.

—Source: National Institutes of Health

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