Summer Skin Care: Sunburn Prevention and Treatment

Most sunburns can be treated at home, but sometimes they require urgent care. Here's how to prevent and treat sunburn and when to see a doctor.

Whenever you’re spending time outdoors in the summertime, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun. Whether you’re out at the pool or the lake, enjoying picnics or little league baseball games, working in your garden or riding your bike, don’t forget to wear sunscreen! 

Sunburns are more than a painful inconvenience—they can also cause premature aging and skin cancers like melanoma. Sometimes, sunburns may even require urgent medical attention. Here’s how to prevent and treat a sunburn, and how to know when you should see a doctor.

Does Sunburn Cause Skin Cancer?

Sunburns can cause lasting damage. Although a single bad sunburn won’t cause cancer, frequent exposure to the sun’s UV rays will definitely increase your risk. Skin damage builds up over time, so the more often you get sunburned, the higher your risk of melanoma will be.

If you have kids, you need to take extra care to protect their skin. Sunburns can be extremely damaging to babies and children. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “Even one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles your chances of developing melanoma later in life.”

How to Prevent Sunburn

The best way to prevent sunburn is to wear sunscreen. In sunny states like Texas, you’ll need a sunscreen with at least an SPF 30. Even if it’s cloudy or if you’re sitting in the shade, you can still get sunburned outside. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends wearing sunscreen even when you’re indoors all day, because UV light can penetrate windows.

Don’t forget to reapply. Sunscreen wears off easily, especially if you’ve been swimming or sweating. Reapply every hour for babies and children, and every two hours for teens and adults. If you have sensitive skin or if you’re spending considerable time outdoors, you may want to reapply your sunscreen more often.

If you’re planning to be outdoors all day, or for several hours between ten and four, keep as much of your skin covered as you can. Wear a hat to protect your head, and wear long sleeves or pants if it’s not too hot outside. You should also wear an SPF lip balm to prevent your lips from getting burned. And wear sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes and eyelids from the sun. 

How to Treat a Sunburn

  • Take frequent cool baths or showers to ease the burning sensation. Gently pat your skin dry—do not rub it with a towel.
  • Apply a soothing lotion with aloe extract to help your skin recover.
  • Drink extra water to help your body rehydrate and repair.
  • Take an NSAID like aspirin or ibuprofen to help relieve swelling, pain, and inflammation.

When Does a Sunburn Need Urgent Care?

In most cases, sunburns can be treated at home. But there are occasions where they can be so severe that they require urgent care. Go to the doctor if you have a sunburn along with any of the following symptoms:

  • Blistering skin
  • Fever or chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headaches/confusion

Urgent Care in Your East-Central Texas Community

Total Point Urgent Care is here to provide medical attention when you and your family need it the most. If you’re in doubt about whether to see a doctor about a sunburn, it’s better to be safe than sorry. A sunburn with blisters could indicate second-degree burns that require medical treatment. For babies less than one year old, sunburns should always be treated as an emergency. 

Visit our urgent care center on S Henderson Boulevard in Kilgore, Texas, or check our locations page to find a clinic near you.


Photo by Lubomirkin on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 5/28/2024.

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