Have bad sunburn? Check out these tips for treating bad sunburn symptoms and promoting skin healing.
Bad Sunburn Symptoms
In the context of this article, we will consider bad sunburn to be one that transcends beyond the first layer of the skin, medically known as second-degree sunburn. This is most notable for fluid-filled blisters on the skin and sometimes swelling in addition to others symptoms.
With that in mind, we can summarize bad sunburn symptoms as follows:
- Red, tender skin which feels warm to the touch
- Skin dryness
- Skin peeling (a few days down the line)
Bad Sunburn Pictures or Pics or Photos
To give you an idea how going out in the sun without applying or reapplying a good SPF sunscreen (at least SPF15) can do to your skin, here are a couple bad sunburn pictures:
Picture 1, 2
Skin blisters in which pus has collected – as in the above two photos – is a common sign of infection and is often accompanied by increasing and pulsating pain, fever and sometimes chills. Such a case merits the attention of your doctor.
Bad Sunburn on Face
The face is one of the areas of the skin that receive the highest exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This makes it particularly vulnerable to UV damage (aka sunburn) and is not surprising to see so many people complaining about having a bad sunburn on face in online forums.
Although the word “bad” is relative, you can call a sunburn bad if you:
- Get exposed to high intensity UV radiation e.g. if you stay in the sun without sunscreen protection during peak hours in a high altitude and/or low latitude area, snowy area, or near a water body (such as an ocean, lake, sea etc)
- Spend too much time in the sun without (re)applying sunscreen
- Handle the sunburn poorly during the initial stage e.g. You apply Vaseline or butter, say shea butter
- You expose your skin to further UV damage after the first sunburn
How to Treat a Bad Sunburn or What to Do for a Bad Sunburn or What to Put on a Bad Sunburn
Now that we know the causes and common symptoms, what to do for bad sunburn is most likely the next concern in your mind. Well, here is how to treat a bad sunburn:
What to put on sunburn blisters
As The Skin Cancer Foundation says, most cases of sunburn, including those accompanied by blistering, can be treated at home.
The WebMD recommends leaving those blisters intact. They are there to protect your skin as it heals from the UV damage it sustained. You may however want to apply a clean, dry bandage on the blisters to protect them from infection. Just don’t wrap the bandage too tight or your risk breaking the blisters and doing more harm than good with the bandage.
The only exception, according to the WebMD website, is large, very painful blisters which may benefit from draining out of the fluid. A safe way to do that is to prick the blister(s) with a needle or pin that has been sterilized with alcohol wipes.
After draining out all the fluid in the blisters, wash the skin with soap and water and apply an antibiotic cream e.g. Polysporin or Bacitracin.
If you get a headache: Some people also experience a headache after a sunburn. If that happens, lie down in a cool, quiet place and drink plenty of water and other fluids e.g. energy drinks, juice, soup etc.
Pain: For pain, take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Ibuprofen helps to soothe pain as well as inflammation but acetaminophen will only relieve pain but not inflammation. Pregnant women should however only take acetaminophen according to the WebMD website.
Itching and inflammation: Swollen and/or itchy skin can benefit from a topical steroid e.g. 1%hydrocortisone cream. Such creams are usually sold OTC in drugstores (pharmacies).
When to see a doctor
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Facial swelling
- Fever and chills
- Pale and cool skin
- Dizziness or malaise (feeling generally weak)
- Blisters that cover more than 20 percent of your skin or the whole back of a child
- Signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion such as extreme thirst and sunken eyes, etc
- Increased pulse rate and/or rapid breathing
Bad Sunburn Remedies or Home Remedies for Bad Sunburn
If you are a fun of natural remedies and home remedies, you are right now probably wondering what home remedies for bad sunburns are. The following home remedies can help to relieve the symptoms while facilitating faster healing of the sunburn:
Cool compress: Place a cool compress (washcloth dampened with cool – not icy – water) on the skin to take the heat out of the sunburned skin. Repeat several times a day.
Aloe vera: Aloe vera has natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredients that help to soothe burns. It has also been scientifically proven to aid the healing of burned skin. You can buy an over-the-counter aloe vera gel or get one of the many aloe vera containing moisturizing lotion brands out there.
Tea: Tea is usually rich in tannic acid which helps to soothe sunburned skin by drawing out the heat retained in it as the Medicinenet website says. The idea is to rinse the skin with freshly brewed tea after it has had time to cool down.
Potato: Potatoes have natural analgesic properties which help to take the pain out of sunburns. Assuming that the blisters are not broken, get a couple potatoes, peel them and then cut them into small slices. Place the sliced potatoes on the sunburned areas of skin.
Alternatively, place the potatoes in a blender and process them into a paste. Now apply the paste on the skin and allow it to dry before washing it off with cold water.
Baking soda: Sunburn itching responds well to baking soda baths (assuming the blisters are not broken). To use this remedy, add a cup of apple cider vinegar to cool bathing water. This helps to restore the pH of the skin and promote skin healing.
A baking soda paste prepared by mixing baking soda and water is also quite as effective.
Oatmeal: Getting an oatmeal bath is also effective in soothing of itchy sunburns. Simply add a cup of oatmeal to bathing water.
Milk: Applying cool milk can also help to soothe the skin and promote healing. Simply apply cool milk to the affected areas of skin with a small washcloth 2 to 3 times daily.
In addition you will want to:
- Drink plenty of fluids: This helps to restore the fluids lost as a result of the sunburn
- Wear loose fitting clothes, preferably made of cotton, to avoid irritating the skin further
- Avoid further exposure to the sun by staying in the shade and avoiding the sun when it is at its peak (between 10 am and 4 pm)