Got Sun? When to Seek Urgent Care for a Severe Sunburn 

Summertime brings an array of fun outdoor activities with it. Since many of them leave you exposed to the sun for long periods of time, sunburn is a frequently occurring condition in the summer.

Everyone has experienced a sunburn at some point in their life. Most people have probably even had a pretty bad one after a particularly long beach day or after forgetting to put sunblock on for a day of yard work. Most of the time, sunburns are mild and aren’t concerning aside from the fact that they can be uncomfortable.

However, some severe cases of sunburn can have more serious consequences for your health. In fact, medical care could be necessary if the sunburn is bad enough. So, before enjoying your fun in the sun this summer, brush up on what you should know about severe sunburns and when to seek treatment for them.

What is the Difference Between Sunburn and Severe Sunburn?

As mentioned, sunburn is an incredibly common type of skin damage. It is caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. People experiencing sunburn often have areas of red, painful skin that may be warm to the touch. In most cases, sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn. More severe cases of sunburn can cause blistering and swelling.

Depending on how severe a sunburn is, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to heal completely.

Although a blistering sunburn might seem severe to the person who is suffering from it, this type isn’t usually cause for concern. Drinking plenty of water, taking cool showers, and applying topical aloe vera gel is usually enough to treat a second-degree sunburn.

When a sunburn is truly severe (and concerning) it is accompanied by other symptoms. For instance, a person may experience widespread blistering, extreme pain, a high fever, headache, confusion, vision problems, chills, and nausea. These symptoms indicate that a sunburn may need medical treatment. Moreover, a sunburn should also be considered severe if it does not start responding to treatment within two days of occurring.

Those who experience a severe sunburn should consider seeking medical treatment.

How is Sunburn Connected to Heat-Related Illnesses?

While sunburn is a common outcome of spending time outdoors in the summer, heat-related illnesses are not. This includes things like hyperthermia, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke is a particularly dangerous condition that should be treated as a life-threatening emergency.

Although heat stroke and sunburn don’t always occur together, a severe sunburn puts you at higher risk of developing a heat-related illness. That’s because skin that is damaged by sunburn isn’t as good at cooling the body down by sweating.

Someone suffering from heat stroke will display many of the same symptoms as someone with a severe sunburn. They will also have a high body temperature (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit), muscle cramps, racing heart rate, rapid, shallow breathing, and a lack of sweating even if it is hot out.

Since severe sunburns and heat stroke share many symptoms, it’s important to seek medical care if someone is experiencing them.

Sunburn Prevention Tips

Obviously, no one wants to get sunburnt. Likewise, no one wants to be forced to seek medical care for a severe case. Preventing sunburn is the best “treatment.”

Not only does it keep you from having to deal with the painful side effects, it also helps decrease your risk of skin cancer later in life.

The best way to prevent sunburn is to limit your time in the sun. Of course, that isn’t always realistic in the summertime. Your next best option is to apply sunscreen whenever you plan to be outdoors. Generally, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is preferred.

When you plan to be outdoors for longer periods, you should also consider covering up with extra clothing. If you don’t want to wear long sleeves in the summer, try wearing a wide-brim hat. This will provide some shade over your neck and shoulders to keep some of your most vulnerable areas from getting burnt.

Velocity Urgent Care is Here to Help

Most people probably won’t need medical care for a sunburn. However, if you or a loved one experiences a severe sunburn this summer, don’t hesitate to seek treatment at Velocity Urgent Care.

Our friendly team will perform a thorough exam to determine the cause of your symptoms and rule out more serious conditions like heat stroke. We can also help treat dehydration and prescribe medications to help with a painful sunburn that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter remedies. If you feel the need to see a dermatologist after a bad case of sunburn, we can even refer you without a visit your primary care provider.

As part of Sentara Healthcare, Velocity Urgent Care can share patient medical records with more than 3,900 of the best physicians and advanced practice clinicians in Virginia.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking serious safety precautions to ensure that our locations are as clean as possible. We’ve put strict sterilization protocols into place and are carefully handling patients who may be contagious to ensure that each one of our clinics is safe for those who need urgent medical care or testing.

Don’t put your health at risk by waiting to seek out treatment!

Velocity Urgent Care offers convenient online registration that helps you limit your contact with others during a visit. You can sign up for an appointment online ahead of time and arrive when it’s time to be seen to skip the waiting room. We even offer text message updates so you can wait in the car (if you prefer) until it’s time for your appointment.

Velocity Urgent Care is an in-network provider for most major insurance plans, meaning you can be seen for the cost of your co-pay and deductible. All of our locations also accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Veterans Administration beneficiaries are also welcome.

To find out more about our services, locations, hours, and more, visit www.velocityuc.com.