Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Sunburn Overview

What is a sunburn?
A person with a sunburn has an injury to the skin, caused by exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. In most cases, sunburn causes a first degree burn. When the skin blisters, the person has suffered a second degree burn. About 40 percent of adults in the US develop a sunburn each year.

What are the symptoms of a sunburn?
Symptoms of a first degree sunburn include skin redness, pain, and swelling. Additional symptoms of a second degree sunburn include skin blisters.

How does the doctor treat a sunburn?
Treatment for a first degree sunburn may include cool compresses or baths, aloe, moisturizing cream, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Treatment for a second degree sunburn may also include protection for unruptured blisters, removal of ruptured blisters, antibiotic ointment, and narcotic pain medication.

Continue to Sunburn Incidence

Last Updated: Aug 3, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Sunburn References
  1. Han A, Maibach HI. Management of acute sunburn. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2004;5(1):39-47. [14979742]
  2. O'Riordan DL, Geller AC, Brooks DR, Zhang Z, Miller DR. Sunburn reduction through parental role modeling and sunscreen vigilance. J Pediatr. 2003 Jan;142(1):67-72. [1252025]
  3. Warthan MM, Sewell DS, Marlow RA, Warthan ML, Wagner RF Jr. The economic impact of acute sunburn. Arch Dermatol. 2003 Aug;139(8):1003-6. [12925386]
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