Staff Report

Summer is the best time for having fun in the sun, but beware of getting too many rays that can cause sunburn and increase the risk of skin cancer.  

Sunburns cause the skin to become red, swollen and warm to the touch, and can bring mild to severe pain.  

“The acute inflammation of a sunburn is the skin’s reaction to UV rays from the sun or artificial sources such as tanning beds,” explains Tina Sary, nurse practitioner with Cottage Virtual Care. “Recurring exposure over time can trigger skin cells to turn into cancer cells.”  

Children and adolescents who get frequent sunburns are at higher risk of developing skin cancer later in life, she adds. 

The first signs of a sunburn are reddening of the skin about 3 to 5 hours after exposure, and burns can last from one day to one week, according to Sary.

Most sunburns are “self-limiting,” meaning they resolve on their own, she adds. There are ways to ease the discomfort and speed up the healing process.  

“Cool compresses, aloe-based lotions and calamine lotion are the best ways to treat a sunburn,” Sary said. “Apply these at the first sign of a sunburn and continue for the next few days as needed.” 

To reduce the risks of sunburn and skin damage, Sary advises to stay out of the sun especially between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. Always use sunscreen and make sure to reapply every two hours.  

For sunburns that need more attention, relief is just a click away. With Cottage Virtual Care, a clinical provider is available online from the comfort of anywhere, 24/7, 365 days a year. No insurance is required, and, in most cases, treatment plans are ready in minutes.