When do you need to see a doctor for a sunburn?

There’s no such thing as a healthy tan, and the same applies to sunburn. Even a few bad sunburns can dramatically raise your lifetime risk of developing melanoma—the deadliest type of skin cancer. At Los Robles Regional Medical Center, we encourage our neighbors throughout Thousand Oaks to prioritize their health and stock up on sunscreen this summer.

When to go to a doctor for sunburn
Most cases of sunburn can be treated at home. However, you’ll need to see a doctor promptly if your sunburn covers a large area of skin or it doesn’t start getting better within two days. A doctor should also evaluate your sunburn if you experience any of the following symptoms.

  • High fever
  • Extreme pain
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Headache

Monitor the sunburn for signs of an infection, and see a doctor if you notice any of them. Signs of an infection can include:

  • Worsening pain
  • Drainage or pus
  • Red streaks on the skin
  • Worsening tenderness and swelling

What to do after developing sunburn
Once you notice that you’re developing sunburn, go inside immediately to prevent further damage. Take a cool shower or bath to cool off your skin.

Apply cool compresses to your injured skin. Take a clean cloth, dip it in cold water and wring out the excess water. Drape the cloth over your sunburned skin.

After removing the compresses, moisturize your skin while it’s still damp. Use a gentle, creamy lotion and apply liberal amounts of it to the damaged skin. Avoid using oil-based or petroleum lotions.

Unless you have medical contraindications, you could also take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to manage the discomfort and inflammation. Follow the product directions carefully.

How to help your skin recover
During the coming days, continue to monitor the sunburned skin for signs of an infection or other indicators that you need to see a doctor. Otherwise, you can continue to treat the sunburn at home by keeping your skin moisturized and staying out of the sun.

You may also find relief by applying aloe vera gel or an over-the-counter cortisone cream. Remember to drink plenty of fluids while your skin heals.

From acute injuries to chronic diseases, we can handle it all here at Los Robles Regional Medical Center. Our hospital in Thousand Oaks is a state-of-the-art medical facility that offers numerous specialty services, all delivered with an emphasis on personalized, superior care. If you’d like a referral to a doctor or specialist, call one of our friendly registered nurses at (877) 888-5746.

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