Living Well

What You Should Do for a Sunburn

Last updated: Jun 25, 2012



What is a sunburn?

A sunburn occurs when your skin is exposed to too much of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.

Sunburn Symptoms

If you have a sunburn, medical doctors in New Jersey suggest your skin is likely to be pink or red, inflamed, hot to the touch, and tender. Because sunburns raise your temperature, they can dehydrate you and make you feel tired and dizzy.

Depending on the severity of your sunburn and the type of skin you have, your skin might begin to feel dry, feel itchy, and peel a day or 2 after getting a sunburn.

To relieve a sunburn:

  • Avoid additional exposure to the sun
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen
  • Take cool showers and baths
  • Gently applyaloe vera gel, cortisone cream, or a nonalcohol-containing moisturizing lotion to soothe your skin and relieve itching
  • Avoid scratching your skin
  • Wear loose clothing to prevent further irritation
  • Keep blisters clean and dry; do not break blisters
  • Keep blisters uncovered whenever possible; if you must cover a blister, use a loose bandage that allows air to circulate around it
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Rest


If your sunburn does not begin improving
within 2 to 3 days,
see your dermatologist!


Sunburn and Risk for Skin Cancer

According to the American Melanoma Foundation, having 5 sunburns can double your risk for skin cancer. Even though many medical doctors in New Jersey emphasize skin cancer prevention, 1 in 5 Americans get skin cancer.

The good news is that most skin cancers can be prevented if you avoid getting too much sun, avoid getting sunburns, and protect your skin from the sun year round even on cloudy days!