Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Most sunburns heal fine on their own. But you may seek treatment if you have severe or repeated sunburn. You're likely to first see your primary care doctor. Before you go to your appointment, list the medications you're taking — including vitamins, herbs and over-the-counter drugs. Some drugs increase your sensitivity to UV light.

Questions to ask your doctor about sunburn include:

  • Can I use over-the-counter medications to treat the condition, or do I need a prescription?
  • How soon after I begin treatment can I expect improvement?
  • What skin care routines do you recommend while the sunburn heals?
  • What suspicious changes in my skin might I watch for?

If your sunburn is severe or your doctor notices any skin abnormalities, he or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in skin diseases (dermatologist) for further evaluation.

What you can do in the meantime

While waiting for your appointment, these steps may reduce your pain and discomfort:

  • Protect yourself from further sun exposure.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medication, such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others).
  • Drink extra water.
  • Apply cold compresses to the affected skin or take a cool bath.
  • Apply moisturizer or aloe vera lotion or gel to your skin.
  • Leave unbroken blisters alone. Gently clean popped blisters with mild soap and water. Apply an antibacterial cream to the area and cover it with a wet dressing.
May 01, 2014