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Sunburns: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention

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Most adults have experienced the sunburn along with the lobster-red skin, painful burning and itching, blisters and overall exhaustion. You should be warned of the dangerous effects both short-term and long-term. Severe sunburns can lead to sun poisoning which causes not only illness but death in some cases. Approximately 3.5 million cases of squamous and basal skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States alone each year. Here is more information about sunburns and how to prevent it.

Sunburn Causes

Sunburns are caused by having your skin exposed under direct sunlight, most often during the late morning and early afternoon hours. More specifically, these types of burns are caused by the UV radiation from the sun. You can get a sunburn after just a few minutes in the sun's harmful rays, or less time for those with particularly fair skin who tend to be more prone to sunburns. If you have ever had a sunburn before, you know how quickly your skin can turn red and start to blister.

Sunburn Symptoms

Aside from the typical sunburn symptoms of redness, skin irritation and skin burning, there are other signs that you have gotten a sunburn. Common symptoms include nausea and/or vomiting, headaches, chills and fever, flu-like symptoms, dehydration and blistering. It can take a few hours after sun exposure to get symptoms of a burn. If you have severe symptoms such as a high fever, persistent nausea, or severe blistering; seek medical attention immediately.

Sunburn Treatments

Many treatments for sunburns depend on the symptoms you have. First and foremost you should stay out of the sun and cover burned skin if you do need to go outdoors before it is healed. Not only will the sun burn you much more quickly with already-burned skin, but it is extremely painful within seconds of being in the sun if your burn is exposed. Drink plenty of water for dehydration and take ibuprofen or aspirin for your headaches and flu-like symptoms.

Rubbing aloe, either in a gel or lotion, will give you immediate relief and help your burn heal more quickly. You can also apply a cold compress to the burn. It may help to skip the shower's hard water sprays and take a cool bath, yet not ice-cold. Avoid using bath oils, salts or scented products. After your bath, towel off very gently but do not rub as it will make your burn extremely painful.

Sunburn Prevention

Luckily sunburn prevention is quite easy with the right preparations. Always wear sunscreen before you leave the house, even if there is a cold forecast in your area. During very hot temperatures, re-apply the sunscreen every few hours or more often if you will be in contact with water such as rain or swimming. Protect your eyes and face with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses whenever possible and seek the shade if you are beginning to feel a hotness in your skin.

If you have a severe sunburn, don't hesitate to visit a local urgent care center (such as 24 Hour Urgent Care of the Desert). They will provide you with relief and help give recommendations to make it heal faster.