Preparing for your appointmentBy 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:
May 01, 2014
- 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.
- Young AR, et al. Sunburn. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 4, 2013.
- Baron ED. Selection of sunscreen and sun-protective measures. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 4, 2013.
- Chien AL, et al. Photoaging. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 4, 2013.
- Geller AC, et al. Primary prevention of melanoma. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 4, 2013.
- Auerbach PS. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 5, 2013.
- Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 25, 2013.
- The Risks of Tanning. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/radiation-emittingproducts/radiationemittingproductsandprocedures/tanning/ucm116432.htm. Accessed Dec. 4, 2013.
- Benzocaine topical products: Sprays, gels and liquids: Risk of methemoglobinemia. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm250264.htm. Accessed Dec. 4, 2013.
- AskMayoExpert. Sunburn (adult and pediatric). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.
- Reed KB, et al. Increasing incidence of melanoma among young adults: An epidemiological study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2012;87:328.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=56050969. Accessed Dec. 4, 2013.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Dec. 4, 2013.
- Watson M, et al. Preventing skin cancer through reduction of indoor tanning: Current evidence. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013;44:682.
- Quatrano NA, et al. Current principles of sunscreen use in children. Current Opinion in Pediatrics. 2013;25:122.
- Reinau D, et al. Outdoor workers' sun-related knowledge, attitudes and protective behaviours: A systematic review of cross-sectional and interventional studies. British Journal of Dermatology. 2013;168:928.
- Diaz JH, et al. Sun exposure behavior and protection: Recommendations for travelers. Journal of Travel Medicine. 2013;20:108.
- FDA sheds light on sunscreens. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm258416.htm. Accessed Dec. 10, 2013.
- Sunscreens. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreens#.UbdQaJzm9lP. Accessed Dec. 10, 2013.
- Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=45. Accessed Dec. 10, 2013.
- The cutaneous manifestations of metastatic malignant melanoma. International Journal of Dermatology. 2012;51:243.
- Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders, Elsevier; 2013. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 11, 2013.