Health Advice



Sunburn treatment: What works?

Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

If needed, take anti-inflammatory medication, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, according to the label instructions until redness and pain subside. Don't give children or teenagers aspirin. It may cause Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease.

Treat peeling skin gently.

Within a few days, the affected area may begin to peel. This is simply your body's way of getting rid of the top layer of damaged skin. While your skin is peeling, continue to use moisturizing cream.

Drink extra water.

This helps prevent dehydration.



Talk with your health care team if your sunburn covers a large portion of your body with blisters, sunburn is accompanied by a high fever or severe pain, or severe sunburn doesn't begin to improve within a few days.

To prevent future episodes of sunburn, apply sunscreen frequently and liberally. Select a broad-spectrum product that provides protection against ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation and has a sun protection factor of at least 15.

Be careful in the sun if you take medications that make sunburn more likely. A common example is tetracycline taken orally for acne. Finally, use common sense when outdoors. Cover up and stay in the shade as much as possible.

Trent Anderson, D.O. , is a family medicine physician in Lake City and Plainview , Minnesota.

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