Sunburn cures?

Originally Published: September 11, 1998 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: June 12, 2009
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Hi Alice,

I was in the sun for seven hours yesterday and I got a pretty bad sunburn. My face has blisters all over it. The redness is severe, and the pain is severe. Any suggestions that you may have will help. To top it off, I am a diabetic and am worried about infection of the blisters. Thanks.

Dear Reader,

Your burn does sound pretty severe. Intense redness, pain, and especially blistering indicate that you may need to have your skin looked at by a health care provider. If you experience chills, a fever, nausea, or disorientation, seek help immediately. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do that may help relieve your discomfort. Apply a cool, wet compress, take a cool bath, or apply a soothing lotion. Many manufacturers make ointments and creams that claim to "cure" sunburn. Although they won't cure your burn, those with a high concentration of aloe vera are likely to feel good. You could also take a pain reliever, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

As someone with diabetes, your concerns about infection are important. According to the American Diabetes Association, people with this disease are more prone to infections — most commonly, those caused by bacteria or fungus. In order to prevent this, keep your skin clean, dry, and well moisturized at all times. Also, be sure to keep your glucose levels in control by following the treatment plan you have developed with your health care provider. Interestingly, a bad sunburn can affect the sugar level s in your blood. For you, the burn may also take longer to heal. If you notice any signs of infection, or if the burn does not seem to be improving, see your health care provider.

Over-exposure to the sun also increases our chances of developing malignant melanoma, the least common but most lethal form of skin cancer. In the future, you may want to consider what precautions you can take to limit your exposure before heading out for another day in the sun (think sun screen, long sleeves, hats, sitting in the shade, etc.).

Take care,

Alice