With everyone spending more time in the sun this time of year, most of us have probably heard that we should wear at least one ounce of broad spectrum sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher any time we’re outdoors. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, head of our Emergency Department, tells us what to do – and what not to do – if you get a sunburn.
Despite common sense, I’ve heard that taking a hot shower can take the sting out of a sunburn, is that true?
Nurse Rose: Absolutely not. There are a lot of myths out there about treating a sunburn and that’s one of them. Taking a hot shower on top of a sunburn can actually worsen your existing first-degree burn. Instead, you should take a cold shower to soothe your skin and remove any chlorine or salt residue that might cause further irritation.
What about putting milk on your skin? I’ve heard that can help to soothe the burn.
Nurse Rose: That’s yet another old wives’ tale. There is actually no medical evidence to back up this trick. In fact, a cold ice pack works just as well.
So what should we really be doing if we have a sunburn?
Nurse Rose: Here are some helpful at-home remedies that will actually help.
- Take a pain reliever like aspirin, ibuprofen or Aleve, as soon as possible to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Drink lots of water. The sun dehydrates your entire body – including your skin.
- Take a cold shower
- Use lotion with aloe vera. Moisturizers with hydrocortisone cream may ease discomfort.
- Avoid cream with “caine” in the title, like benzocaine, which could irritate the skin further.
At what point should we see a doctor?
Nurse Rose: While most sunburns can be treated at home, you should see your doctor if your sunburn is accompanied by blisters covering a large portion of your body, high fever or signs of infection like swelling or red streaks from the blisters.
Want quick medical care but not the emergency room wait? Check out Centra Care Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care, with three locations in Rockville, Germantown and Laurel. Make an appointment online or simply walk-in any day of the week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Additional Health Tips from Rose
Hear more health tips from Rose by tuning into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m.