Sunburn Treatment Questions and Answers
If you have been affected by a sunburn, walk-in to AFC Urgent Care Clairemont today to get checked out, so we can help you on the way to healing. We are located at 5671 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92111.
Sunburns can be an unintended but regrettable consequence of spending too much time in the sun. While most sunburns are mild, some require medical attention for proper healing. Moreover, sunburns damage the skin and increase one’s risk of developing skin cancer. As such, it is important to avoid sunburns as much as possible with proper skincare. However, if you do experience a sunburn that requires medical attention, our medical doctors and professionals at AFC Urgent Care will be here for you to provide you with excellent treatment.
What is a sunburn exactly?
A sunburn is ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage to the DNA in the skin cells on the outer layer of skin, or epidermis, and is typically caused by too much unprotected exposure to the sun.
In response to UV exposure from the sun, your skin produces melanin to block the damaging effects of UV radiation. This process is colloquially referred to as tanning. However, with too much UV exposure, our body cannot produce enough melanin to defend against UV radiation, causing the skin cells to deteriorate and die. In response, your skin then produces an inflammatory reaction, known as a sunburn, to replace the damaged and dead skin cells from the UV radiation.
Due to genetics and ethnicity, some people naturally have more melanin than others. As such, individuals with less melanin are at higher risk of experiencing a sunburn, as the window of exposure between a tan and a sunburn is much shorter than with individuals with more melanin.
What are the degrees of sunburn?
In general, sunburns can either be first-degree or second-degree burns. The determining factor in the degree of a sunburn is the size of the burn and how deeply the UV radiation damages the skin.
With that in mind, most sunburns are first-degree burns, typically involving redness, soreness, tightness, and warmth in the affected area. It is also possible to experience mild swelling and blistering with a first-degree sunburn. Most first-degree sunburns do not require medical attention; however, you may want to consult a doctor or dermatologist about caring for the burn properly.
Second-degree sunburns occur when the UV rays penetrate both the epidermis, which is the outer layer of skin, and the dermis, which is the layer of skin below the epidermis. Symptoms of a second-degree sunburn include the following:
- Blistering and swelling over a significant area of skin
- Deep red, wet, and shiny skin
- Significant pain and discomfort
- White discoloration within the burn
A second-degree sunburn can take several weeks to heal and will likely require medical attention for adequate treatment.
How do you know when a sunburn is serious?
While any sunburn is serious enough to be avoided since they damage the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer, some sunburns are more serious in the immediate sense. As such, some signs that your sunburn is serious include the following:
- Blisters that occur on the face, genitals, or hands
- Covers a large area
- Severe blisters
- Significant soreness, swelling, and tenderness
- Signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke, including confusion, dehydration, dizziness, fainting, loss of consciousness, nausea, racing heart rate, rapid breathing, and slurred speech
- Signs of infections, such as chills, fever, pus, or red streaks leading away from an open blister
Should I go to urgent care for a sunburn?
If you have a sunburn with symptoms of a second-degree burn or would like guidance on caring for the burn properly, an urgent care clinic is an excellent place to go for a sunburn! At AFC Urgent Care Clairemont in San Diego, CA, our medical doctors and professionals would gladly provide you with excellent sunburn treatment and guidance for caring for your sunburn.
For an appointment or more information about sunburn treatment at AFC Urgent Care Clairemont, we welcome you to give us a call or visit our clinic at 5671 Balboa Ave in San Diego, California, for a walk-in appointment. We serve patients from Clairemont CA, Chula Vista CA, San Diego CA, Santa Ana CA, Anaheim CA and Long Beach, CA.