What's the best thing to do for sun burn?

Expert Answers
dano7744 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Burns can be serious business, a sunburn is a good example of a 1st degree burn. The first thing you should do is stay out of the sun as much as possible. Sunburns are characterized by redness, heat, and pain to the epidermis. Sunburns make the skin feel tight, this is because you have lost fluids that are normally in the skin. The intense heat pulls the fluids out of the skin. You also lose fluids from sweating. Rehydration is critical.

If a sunburn produces blistering it is no longer a 1st degree burn. Only 2nd degree burns produce blistering. At this point, the person may become critically ill because of a large fluid volume shift. The intravascular tissue fluids leave the intravascular spaces and migrate to the exterior of the body. Profound hypotension can occur because an intravascular fluid volume deficit now exists. The fluid in the blisters does not belong there, you have much less circulating intravascular volume. These individuals are commonly admitted to intensive care units. They must receive massive intravenous fluid replacement quickly and IV vasopressers to maintain the blood pressure.

Second degree burns have the same physiological effect on the body as acute blood loss, causing hypovolemic shock. Burns also make the person highly suseptible to infection because the protective barrier of the skin is damaged. Infection after any burn is very common.

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First of all, this highly depends on the severity of the burn.  A typical sunburn is probably only a first degree burn - which results in reddening of the skin.  If small blisters appear, this is a 2nd degree burn which is worse.  A 3rd degree burn requires immediate assistance by a medical professional - this is categorized by severe redness and significant blistering.

For most minor sunburns here is a list of how to treat:

  1. (use SPF to protect your skin in the first place)
  2. get out of the sun
  3. take a cool bath or shower to ease pain
  4. apply aloe vera (found in gel form but straight from the plant works too) directly to the affect area (as long as no blisters have burst)
  5. Tylenol or Ibuprofen can be used to help ease pain as well.
  6. stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep - severe sunburns can cause headaches, diarrhea and/or vomitting

As far as myths go:

  • do NOT put butter on a burn
  • sunburns do not protect your skin from getting burned again
  • most over the counter lotions will make the pain from the sunburn worse - stick to aloe or nothing
besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sunburn can be very mild or very severe so it really depends on which we are trying to treat. If it is a severe sunburn it is best to see a doctor. Remember, it is always important to wear sunscreen and reapply it often, especially when swimming.

I always find that the use of a cold compress always helps. It is also a good idea to put some aloe on the burn as well. In addition, if the burn blisters at all, leave them alone and do not pick at them. If you do this you are opening yourself up to harmful bacteria that could infect the area. If you are still experiencing a great deal of discomfort, an over-the-counter pain reliever can be taken. When the skin begins to heal it will peel. Keep using the aloe or a moisturizer to keep the skin moist.

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