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SunburnOuch!  You didn’t think you were out in the sun that long.  What happened?  Now, your skin is red and really hurts.  What do you do?

•First get out of the sun and indoors, if possible.

•Put a towel dampened in cold water on your skin. Change the towel every 10 to 15 minutes. This will help remove some of the heat out of your skin. You can also take a cool shower or bath. Just gently pat your skin dry, leaving some water on your skin.

•To help relieve dryness of the skin you can apply a moisturizer with aloe vera or soy. This will help trap the water in your skin. Aloe vera has a soothing action on the skin. However, be careful with lotions and creams as those containing petroleum, benzocaine or lidocaine should not be used. Petroleum products can trap heat in your skin and make you more uncomfortable. Benzocaine and lidocaine can irritate your skin. Hydrocortisone cream may help if you have an area that feels especially uncomfortable.

•You can take an over the counter pain reliever to help reduce discomfort, swelling, and redness. Don’t use home remedies as these can slow or prevent healing.

•Drink extra water. Being sunburned dries you out so you need to drink extra water to prevent dehydration.

•Don’t pop blisters. Popping blisters can make your sunburn worse. If you have blisters you have a second-degree sunburn. Blisters protect you from infection if you allow them to heal naturally and don’t pop them. If they do pop on their own, apply an antibacterial ointment in the area.

•If you feel dizzy, weak, sick to your stomach, cold, itchy, feverish, or if you develop a rash or are just not feeling well, you should seek medical help. These symptoms signal the sunburn may be making you really sick, or you may be very dehydrated and need medical attention. Heat exhaustion is also a possibility requiring medical attention.Sun hat and applying sun screen

•Be careful until your sunburn heals. Skin healing from a sunburn can easily burn again in the sun. Wear sunscreen and additionally protect your skin with tightly-woven clothing in dark or medium colors.

Sunburns cause damage to your skin which can last for some time. Sunburns increase your risk of skin cancer in the future. Protect your skin with a 30 SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen when going outside and reapply every two hours. Learn and follow other sun safety tips.

Author: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County, Miami Valley EERA, brinkman.93@osu.edu

Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, West Region, spires.53@osu.edu

References:
American Academy of Dermatology, (2014). Treating Sunburn, Available at http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/for-kids/about-skin/skin-cancer/treating-sunburn

Mayo Clinic, (2012). Sunburn: First Aid, Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-sunburn/basics/art-20056643

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