Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
You're likely to first see your family doctor or primary care doctor. Before you go to your appointment, make a list of all medications that you're taking — including vitamins, herbs and over-the-counter drugs — as some medications increase your sensitivity to UV radiation.
For sunburn, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Do I need prescription medication, or can I use over-the-counter medications to treat the condition?
- How soon after I begin treatment can I expect improvement?
- What skin care routines do you recommend while the sunburn heals?
- What suspicious changes in my skin should I look for?
If your doctor notices any skin abnormalities, such as lesions or suspicious moles, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin diseases (dermatologist) for further evaluation.
What you can do in the meantime
While waiting for your appointment, these home remedies may reduce your pain and discomfort:
- Take an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others).
- Apply cold compresses to the affected skin, or take a cool bath or shower.
- Apply an aloe vera or after-sun lotion to your skin to decrease pain and swelling.
- Sun and your skin. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/sun_sun.html. Accessed March 13, 2011.
- Facts about sunscreen. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/media/background/factsheets/fact_sunscreen.htm. Accessed March 13, 2011.
- Wolf K, et al. Photosensitivity, photo-induced disorders and disorders by ionizing radiation. In: Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=45. Accessed March 13, 2011.
- Brice S, et al. Sunburn. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed March 13, 2011.
- Habif TP. Light-related diseases and disorders of pigmentation. In: Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed March 13, 2011.
- Skin cancer prevention and early detection. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/SunandUVExposure/SkinCancerPreventionandEarlyDetection/skin-cancer-prevention-and-early-detection-what-to-look-for. Accessed March 14, 2011.
- Balk SJ. Ultraviolet radiation: A hazard to children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2011;127:e791.
- Get set for winter illness season. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm092805.htm. Accessed March 14, 2011.
- Anderson CF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 15, 2011.
- Benzocaine topical products: Sprays, gels and liquids — risk of methemoglobinemia. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm250264.htm. Accessed Apr. 8, 2011.