Severe sunburn can be offset your balance and weigh down your productivity. What treatments are available to get rid of such sunburn? Are there home remedies that work? Find out more.
Severe Sunburn Symptoms
Severe sunburn is characterized by swelling and blistering in addition to the common symptoms of mild sunburn such as redness, pain, dryness, and the skin feeling warm to the touch.
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These together characterize second degree sunburn. Blisters show that the second layer of skin has as well been affected by the sun’s UV rays damage. The damaged skin cells in lower layers of skin are what provide the fluid retained in blisters.
Here is a summary of common symptoms of severe sunburn:
- Fever, chills, nausea, and malaise (feeling weak): Usually a sign of infection
- Extreme thirst and sunken eyes: Usually a sign of dehydration and heat exhaustion
Severe Sunburn Pictures
The following pictures show patients with severely sunburned skin.
This picture shows a blistered skin. Sunburn blisters are usually an indication of deeper skin damage that reaches the second layer of skin.
This picture shows a blister with yellowish pus. Pus is one of the common signs of infection. An infected sunburn blister warrants the attention of a medical practitioner
Severe Sunburn Pain Relief
Severe sunburn can be terribly painful and make you pretty uncomfortable. Luckily taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as Naproxen (Naprosyn), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and aspirin (Bayern) helps to reduce pain and inflammation. As for acetaminophen (Tylenol), it does not soothe the inflammation but helps to relieve pain.
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Aloe vera also helps to reduce inflammation and pain associated with sunburns that are severe.
How to Treat Severe Sunburn, Severe Sunburn Treatment or What to Do for Severe Sunburn
The presence of blisters makes severe sunburn treatment rather tricky since they are prone to infection if not handled carefully. With that in mind, here is how to treat severe sunburn:
Keep the blisters intact: Most sunburn blisters will heal naturally and leaving them alone is your best bet. That means not popping them out. This is especially true of small, pea-sized blisters.
Relieve the symptoms: In the meantime, you will want to soothe the symptoms such as pain, inflammation, and redness by:
– Keep the skin cool by applying cool soaks or taking cool showers. The idea here is to dissipate heat from the skin. For cool soaks, dip a small washcloth in cool water, wring out excess water, and apply it on the skin for 15 minutes several times a day, re-soaking it as soon as it get warm
-Apply aloe vera to the surrounding sunburned skin. You can either use a commercial aloe vera gel or fresh aloe vera juice obtained b splitting an aloe vera leaf into two. An aloe vera lotion product can as well help. Just don’t apply it directly on the blister.
-Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines to relieve the pain and inflammation commonly associated with sunburn and blisters. Ibuprofen (sold as Advil or Motrin) is a good example and so are Naproxen (Naprosyn) and aspirin (Bayern).
Aspirin should however not be given to children without a doctor’s consent since it can cause a rare, but fatal condition called Reye’s syndrome.
Protect the blisters from infection: Blisters are prone to infection and popping or scratching them is the last thing you want to do. You may want to apply a dab of antibiotic cream such as Bacitracin or Polysporin to prevent infection.
Applying a clean, non-stick bandage is also not a bad idea even though the WebMD website says it is optional if the blisters have not burst. Change the bandage as soon as it gets soiled or wet – once a day at the very least.
If blisters burst by themselves however, simply wash them with clean water and soap and dab some antibiotic cream before covering them with a clean, non-stick bandage.
Watch out for signs of infection, heat exhaustion, or dehydration and seek the attention of a qualified medical practitioner immediately. These include fever, chills, nausea, malaise (feeling weak), sunken eyes, increasing and pulsating pain, excessive thirst, and rapid breathing.
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Best Treatment for Severe Sunburn
“What is the best way to treat severely sunburned skin?” That is a question sent to us by one of our valued readers.
Well, if you are dealing with blisters, your best bet is to let them be and soothe them with cool compresses (to the surrounding sunburned skin) and showers, aloe vera gel or lotion, and OTC pain relievers e.g. ibuprofen.
It might also benefit the skin to apply an antibiotic cream such as Polysporin and Bacitracin and keep the blisters loosely bandaged with a good material like cotton gauze.
Severe Sunburn Remedies – Home Remedies
As for the fans of home remedies out there, you will delight in the following severe sunburn remedies:
Aloe vera: Aloe vera has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory ingredients which are beneficial to sunburns and blisters. It helps to keep moisturized while soothing it of pain and inflammation and promoting the healing process.
A simple, cost-effective approach is to apply some fresh juice obtained from a fresh aloe vera plant leaf. If you don’t have access to aloe vera plant, you can always buy an over-the-counter aloe vera gel product from your local drugstore (pharmacy).
Potatoes: Potato juice is globally recognized for its ability to relieve pain. To relieve painful but intact (not broken) blisters, blend a few slices of clean, peeled potatoes in a blender or food processor and apply the resulting paste on the blisters gently. Once dry, rinse the paste off with cool water.
Tomatoes: Applying tomato juice or paste is also beneficial to sunburn blisters. It relieves pain while promoting the healing of the skin. To use this remedy, mix one mashed tomato with ½ cup of milk and apply it on the affected area of skin. Leave it on for 30 minutes and rinse it off with cold water.
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In addition you may also want to incorporate the following tips into your blister-care regimen:
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated
- Keep the sunburned skin cool by getting cold showers or applying cool compresses every now and then
Itching Severe Sunburn Relief
And then there are those readers looking to know how to relieve severely sunburned skin (with blisters) of itching.
Well, the last thing you even want to think about is scratching the blisters as that can cause infection.
If you have been using an antibiotic cream, stop using it. Such creams may cause allergic reactions in some people. In case the blister has burst, just keep it clean by washing it with soap and water every day before bandaging it with a clean, non-stick bandage.
Applying cool soaks and taking cold showers may also help and so can applying aloe vera juice or gel.
Taking an oatmeal bath or placing an oatmeal-soaked wash cloth gently against the itchy blisters for 15 to 20 minutes can also help. Colloidal oatmeal powders such as Aveeno are available in most local drugstores.
If you like, you can as well prepare your own oatmeal solution as follows;
- Wrap1 cup of oatmeal in a small, cotton washcloth
- Boil the oatmeal for 5 minutes to make it soft
- Take a cool bathe or shower using the washcloth (with the oatmeal still wrapped in it) as a sponge. Do not use soap.
Baking soda: Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) also helps to alleviate sunburn blisters itching. Simply prepare a paste by mixing 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 cup of water and then apply on the blisters gently. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then wash it off with cold water.
A word of caution: If any remedy worsens the itching, discontinue its use.
It is also advisable to:
- Prevent further exposure to the skin damaging UV rays from the sun
- Use gently soaps such as Basis, Dove, or Oil of Olay
- Wear loose fitting cotton clothing.
What to Put On Severe Sunburn – In Conclusion
In addition to keeping the skin cool, putting an aloe vera gel, juice or lotion on the severely sunburned skin also helps and so does applying antibiotic cream such as Polysporin or Bacitracin. Applying a potato paste (on intact blisters only) prepared by blending small pieces of clean, peeled potatoes also helps to relieve pain.
If a blister however bursts, you will only want to use antibiotic cream after cleaning it with soap and water.