Sunburn Signs

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Question

What are the signs of sunburn?

Answer

Signs of sunburn usually appear within a few hours of exposure, bringing pain, redness, swelling and occasional blistering. Because a large area is often exposed, sunburn can cause headache, fever and fatigue.

If you have a sunburn:

  • Take a cool bath or shower.

  • Apply an aloe vera gel several times a day.

  • Leave blisters intact to speed healing and avoid infection. If they burst, apply an antibiotic ointment on the open areas. Cover with a sterile gauze bandage.

  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen.

  • Consider applying a product containing the anesthetic benzocaine. However, anesthetic creams can cause allergic reactions in some people.

If your sunburn begins to blister or if you experience immediate complications, such as rash, itching or fever, see your doctor.

Get more information about sunburn in our Health Encyclopedia.

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