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How to Tell If You Are Sunburned

avoid getting sunburn dermatologist recommendation 1115x630 - How to Tell If You Are Sunburned

A patient recently made a Telehealth appointment with us to talk about some excessive exposure to the sun her 5-year-old experienced at Clearwater Beach. This parent used broad spectrum sunscreen on the child, yet the family was out in the ocean from 10 am to 2 pm, when UV rays are often the strongest. The parent did not reapply sunscreen during this time. Redness appeared around 5:00 p.m. on the facial area, neck and shoulders. The child complained about the areas of the skin hurting and feeling hot. The parent showed the dermatologist the child’s face and shoulders and asked the following question:

How can I tell whether or not you are sunburned?

If the skin shows signs of inflammation and turns red or blisters, a sunburn likely occurred.

In this case, the doctors closely evaluated the skin and confirmed a burn resulted from too much exposure to UV rays.

To obtain sunburn relief for this child, the dermatologist recommended the following:

  • Take a bath with cold water. A shower is fine too, yet the force of the water may be painful on the skin.
  • Apply a dermatologist-recommended moisturizer. We recommended two different ones.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. If possible, drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
  • Avoid the sun at least until the burn heals. If you do have to go outdoors, stay in the shade, and use broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing until healing occurs

The next question the parent asked:

Is there any treatment we can do to prevent skin cancer after a sunburn?

No. Once the skin is sunburned, the damage has already occurred. This damage cannot be reversed.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, sunburn is a leading cause of skin cancer. In fact, getting burned 5 times in your lifetime doubles your risk of developing melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. If you experience one serious sunburn with blistering, this also doubles your risk of being diagnosed with melanoma.

How do I prevent sunburns?

This is easy. Some tips we recommend:

Practice sun safety measures.

Stay out of the sun when the UV index is high. Stay indoors or seek shady areas.

Use broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply if active, sweating, or swimming every 80 minutes or more frequently.

Wear sun-protective clothing. Consider a hat to protect the face and neck, especially for children and infants.

Remember to protect your eyes with sunglasses that cover your entire eye area and block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.

In the event you or a family member experiences a sunburn, make a Telehealth appointment with a dermatologist at Suncoast Skin Solutions, Florida’s Most Trusted Dermatology. Each of our office locations has a dermatologist on site to evaluate your skin and perform an exam. Please call for details.

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