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Sunburn

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Sunburn Relief

Sunburn treatment is designed to attack the burn on two fronts -- relieving reddened, inflamed skin while easing pain. Here are a few home remedies for sunburn:

Compresses. Apply cold compresses to your skin or take a cool bath to soothe the burn.

Creams or gels. To take the sting out of your sunburn, gently rub on a cream or gel containing ingredients such as:

  • Menthol
  • Camphor
  • Aloe

Refrigerating the cream first will make it feel even better on your sunburned skin.

NSAIDs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen or naproxen, can relieve sunburn swelling and pain all over your body.

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and other fluids so that you don't become dehydrated.

Avoid the sun. Until your sunburn heals, stay out of the sun.

You may be able to treat the sunburn yourself. But call for a doctor's help if you notice any of these more serious sunburn signs:

  • Fever of 102 degrees or higher
  • Chills
  • Severe pain
  • Sunburn blisters that cover 20% or more of your body
  • Dry mouth, thirst, reduced urination, dizziness, and fatigue, which are signs of dehydration

Preventing Sunburn

Here are some tips for keeping your skin safe when you're outside:

Watch the clock. The sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you can't stay indoors during that block of time, at least stick to shady spots.

Wear the right clothes. When you have to be outdoors, wear sun-protective clothing, such as:

  • A broad-brimmed hat
  • A long-sleeved shirt and pants
  • UV-blocking sunglasses

Use sunscreen. Cover any exposed areas of skin liberally with at least 1 ounce of broad-spectrum sunscreen. That means sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

The sunscreen should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Follow these tips for applying sunscreen:

  • Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before you go outside.
  • Use sunscreen even on overcast days because UV rays can penetrate clouds.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours -- or more often if you're sweating heavily or swimming.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on April 11, 2014
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