Avera Medical Minute: Treating and preventing sunburn

Updated: Aug. 3, 2023 at 5:15 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Protecting yourself from the sun is crucial to enjoying the benefits of summer. Without sunscreen or clothing to cover your skin, sunburn can lead to painful and potentially complicated obstacles like skin cancer. Sunburn is technically a radiation burn from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation when it contacts our skin. It can damage the skin cells and even change the DNA.

If sunburn does occur, there are some steps you will want to adhere to when taking care of it according to Avera physician assistant Kim Dewing.

If you notice burning (hot skin or pink color):

-Cover the affected area and get out of the sun

-Cool it down quickly with a washcloth or compress

-Taking short cool showers over the next few days

-Applying moisturizer

-Staying hydrated

If you suffered a first-degree sunburn, the top layer of skin or epidermis will take between three to seven days to heal on its own. A sunburn that goes into the second layer of skin, or dermis, would show blistering and could take ten days or more to heal. All of those scenarios are less than ideal, so Dewing says preventative measures like using SPF 30 or above and reapplying every two hours are crucial. “The other thing we talk about is trying to avoid being outside when the UV rays are the strongest,” Dewing said. “Between 10 am and 4 pm is when the sun can be very damaging to your skin.”