What is it?
Sunburn is an inflammation of the skin that is caused by over-exposure to long and short rays of the sun.
Symptoms: Mild sunburn produces red skin. This is the effect of the infrared rays of the skin. It causes little discomfort and lasts for two to three days. If more severe sunburn the affected area becomes red, hot and tender. Blisters may follow which subsequently burst and weep. Peeling follows as the damaged skin is shed.
Causes: Over-exposure to the rays of the sun. People who have fair skins are much more likely to get sunburnt, Photosensitivity due to certain medications and drugs.
Possible complications: Long-term exposure to the sun causes premature ageing and definitely increases the risk of skin cancer. In a susceptible person an attack of porphyria may occur, with severe skin and abdominal involvement.
Treatment in the home: Avoid further exposure to the sun. Apply calamine lotion to the affected area to keep the skin cool. Take aspirin or paracetamol in recommended doses to relieve discomfort. Do not give aspirin to children under 12 years of age.
When to consult a doctor: If the sunburn is severe and distressing, if there is headache, nausea and fever.
What the doctor may do: Check for signs of sunstroke; Prescribe an anti-inflammatory cream to relieve the condition. Apply dressing to blisters areas.