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What are the Stages of Sunburn?

Sunburns happen every day to millions of Americans and can impact anyone, no matter their skin color. They often are mild and more irritating than painful. They can also be treated at home. However, the more time skin is left exposed and unprotected in the sun, the worse the actual sunburn will be. Continue reading to learn about the different stages of sunburn and the best ways to treat them.

AFC Urgent Care North Andover can help treat moderate to severe sunburns, depending on additional symptoms. Visit our center today to receive the care you need and treatment for other ailments this summer.

First-degree Sunburn

First-degree sunburn is typically not severe, and symptoms will be resolved within a few days. The top layer of skin is affected, and patients may notice redness, a warm feeling on the area, swelling, and soreness. Additional symptoms may include nausea, fatigue, and headache. The skin may also peel three to eight days after getting a sunburn.

Treatment for first-degree symptoms can include:

  • Take a cool bath or shower
  • Stay hydrated
  • Take pain medication such as ibuprofen for headache relief
  • Use aloe vera or other moisturizers to speed up the healing and prevent peeling
  • Avoid additional sun exposure on the affected area

Second-degree Sunburn

Second-degree sunburns often damage the top two layers of skin. More severe sunburns may require treatment from a specialist, depending on how much skin it covers, and it can take weeks to heal. Symptoms of second-degree sunburns include:

  • Skin that is a deep red
  • Swelling, blistering, and pain
  • White discoloration
  • Shiny looking skin

The same treatment options as first-degree can apply to second-degree sunburns. If symptoms do not go away or pain is increasing, it is best to receive medical treatment. It is also important to be aware of signs of heatstroke or heat exhaustion.

While treatment options can apply to both first and second-degree sunburns, further treatment may be necessary for second-degree sunburns. Treatment from an urgent care center or an emergency room can include:

  • Cool baths, ice packs, or cold compresses to reduce the temperature
  • Muscle relaxers to reduce shivers or convulsions
  • Cold water flushes

If your child or infant gets a sunburn, visit a medical facility for advice and treatment.

Potential Complications

Getting sunburns at a younger age increases the risk significantly of getting skin cancer later in life. If you are someone who gets sunburns frequently, you should consult with a dermatologist to be aware of the signs of skin cancer. Sunburn also prematurely ages the skin, causing wrinkles and aging spots.