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Sunburns occur as a result of overexposure to sun. They happen to people who spend too much time in the sun without protective clothes and sunblock or sunscreen. They can range from mild to severe. Mild sunburns are relatively harmless and go away on their own quite soon, while severe sunburns can be very serious and require medical attention.

Symptoms of sunburns include red and hot skin that is very tender and painful to touch. In some cases the skin may develop blisters and become swollen. Usually, after a few days, the affected skin starts to peel, accompanied by itching.

Severe sunburns include symptoms like electrolyte imbalance and dehydration, severe blisters and possible infections. One of the biggest risks of severe sunburns is shock.

Treatment for sunburns

One of the best ways to sooth hot, red and swollen skin is to take a cool, but not cold bath. Cold compresses and ice packs also help, as long as the ice is not applied directly to the skin.

Pain relievers can be taken to ease the pain and burning due to sunburns. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are usually recommended for this purpose.

Lotions based on aloe vera are praised in beach communities and among people who, for different reasons, spend a lot of time in the sun. Aloe vera soothes the skin, nourishes it, reduces the inflammation, the pain and itching. Those who have an actual aloe vera plant in their garden can simply cut a leaf and squeeze its juice directly on the affected skin.

Rubbing, scratching or shaving the skin is not recommended until the skin heals. The same goes for heavily scented soaps, lotions and perfumes.

Silver sulfadiazine, Burow solution soaks and compresses, cortisone-based medications can also be used, especially in severe cases.

It is important to keep oneself properly hydrated because, like any other burn, sunburns can cause dehydration and serious health problems.

It goes without saying that a person who suffered a sunburn should keep away from sun until the skin completely heals. Keeping cool and hydrated during the recovery is very important.

When to see a doctor

Although most mild or moderate sunburns do not require medical attention, severe sunburns can be very dangerous and should be examined by a doctor as soon as possible.

It is recommended to see a doctor if the sunburn covers a large portion of the body or if blisters appear. High fever and pain are also a sign of a severe sunburn. Symptoms of dehydration, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, nausea and vomiting are serious symptoms and require medical attention.

Even in mild or moderate cases, if the sunburn does not heal after a week, a doctor should be consulted.

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