Sunburn blisters are not good news. They are not only uncomfortable but can also cause serious infections. So, what can you do to them if they occur on your face, lips? Here is a detailed insight and pictures.
Blistered Sunburn Meaning or Water Blisters from Sunburn
Sunburn blisters are raised, fluid-filled bumps of the surface of the skin. They are usually an indication of severe sunburn that transcends beyond the top layer of the skin.
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When damaged, the second layer of the skin separates with the first one leading to formation of blisters. The transparent fluid found in blisters results from damaged skin cells in the lower layer of the skin.
You can always prevent the formation of blisters by preventing further damage to the skin and intervening with sunburn treatments, e.g. cool soaks and aloe vera, as soon as first symptoms of first degree sunburn (e.g. red rash, soreness, and felling warm) are observed.
Sunburn blistering may as well be accompanied by excessive swelling in addition to the common symptoms of sunburn such as redness, dryness, pain, and warmth (to touch).
Sunburn blistering is caused by excessive damage of the skin cells after exposure to the sun’s Harmful ultraviolet, UV rays.
If proper care is not taken, blistered sunburn can lead to skin infection which may then result in increasing pain and swelling, and even fever.
You should not use any moisturizing product, including lotion and Vaseline on blistered sunburn. As a matter of fact, Vaseline and butter e.g. shea butter should never be used on sunburned skin, whether blistered or not.
Treatment of blistered sunburn
Sunburn blisters are unsightly, no doubt, but popping them out of your skin is the last thing you even want to think about. This can set stage for serious infection. After all, the blisters are there to protect the skin as it heals itself.
The best treatment for sunburn is to leave them alone. Yes, you read that right. Sunburn blisters heal naturally, but severe cases of blistering can take several days before they even start healing.
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You can however always relieve the skin of the pain by taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Covering the sunburned area gently with a cool washcloth (also referred to as a cool soak) or taking a cool shower every now and then can also help to relieve pain and other symptoms. Applying an aloe vera gel is also helpful. Watch out that the product you use doesn’t have Lidocaine and Benzocaine as these often cause irritation to the skin.
If the blisters however pop on their own, wash the area gently with cool water and avoid pulling any dangling skin. If you have to remove any skin, use a clean pair of small scissors. Once clean, apply some antibiotic cream and cover the area with a clean non-stick bandage.
Although not a necessity, you can also bandage intact blisters to prevent infection.
A word of caution though: Whatever you do, watch out for symptoms of infection such as fever, chills, increasing and pulsating pain, general malaise (feeling weak), and pus drainage and see your doctor for appropriate treatment if necessary.
Sunburn Blisters on Lips
The lips are as well susceptible to sunburn if exposed to excessive UV rays from the sun. The lower lip is at higher risk of developing sunburn, and blisters, since it gets more exposure to sunlight than the upper lip.
Blisters from sunburn may form within a few hours of UV damage or after a few days of sunburn. As much as sunburn blisters on the lips typically are, you should never pop them out. Instead, you should soothe them with cool soaks and aloe vera while soothing the pain with anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (available OTC as Advil or Motrin).
If they however burst on their own, seek the attention of your doctor. S/he is very likely to give you a round of antibiotics and other medicines.
Sunburn Blisters on Face – Blisters from Sunburn on Face
The face is one of the parts of the body that get the highest exposure to sunlight and as such is very prone to sunburn if adequate protection is not observed when outdoors.
The best treatment for facial sunburn blisters is to just leave them alone (do not pop them out) and keep the skin cool (cool showers) and soothed (over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen).
What if they burst, you ask. Well, apply an antibiotic cream such as Polysporin or Bacitracin to prevent infection. If any pus is however observed, seek the attention of your GP.
You can always prevent future incidents of facial sunburn and blisters by protecting your skin with sunscreen when outdoors. Although a product with SPF15 is okay, SPF30 is the ultimate recommendation. That means that the closer the sunscreen is to SPF the better it is.
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Wearing a wide-rimmed hat and staying out of the sun during its peak hours (between 10 am and 4 pm) is also advisable.
Sunburn Blisters Pictures
There is an old adage that goes: A picture is worth a thousand words. There is no better way to enlighten you on sun blisters than with a couple sunburn blisters pictures. So, here we go:
This picture gives you a close look at sunburned skin blisters. As you can see, the blister sacs are filled with a colorless fluid.
Here is another picture showing a more severe case of sunburn with pus:
Severe Sunburn Blisters – Bad Blisters from Sunburn
If you have severe sunburn blisters that transcend a large portion of the skin, it might be a good idea to seek the attention of your doctor. This is especially so if they are accompanied by signs of infection such as fever, chills, nausea, and general malaise, not to forget pus drainage.
Your doctor will likely treat you with a round of antibiotics and other medications such as prescription or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
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Sunburn Blisters on Nose
The prominent position of the nose also makes it particularly susceptible to sunburn and the associated blistering. This same prominence of the nose can make you very tempted to pop the blisters away, but stop right there.
That will do you no good. Just keep the skin cool, dab an antibiotic cream and relieve the pain and swelling with anti-inflammatory until the blisters have healed.
Sunburn Blisters on Back
If you have sunburn blisters on the back, this simply indicates that your skin has suffered the brunt of excessive exposure to UV rays from the sun. Maybe you spent way too long time in the sun without sunscreen protection over the weekend. Just stay cool and take care of your blisters using antibiotic cream as described in a previous section of this article.
Scalp Sunburn Blisters
One of our valued readers recently asked, “I have a blistered scalp after a holiday in the Caribbean. Could it be a sign of sunburn?” Well, the scalp is also prone to damage by the sun’s harmful UV rays and could easily be the underlying cause.
Keeping the scalp cool by taking cool showers from time to time should help to promote faster healing of the blisters. It is also a good idea to dab some antibiotic cream such as Bacitracin or Polysporin. If the blisters however still persist or seem to be getting worse a couple weeks down the line, seek medical attention.