The Best Ways to Prevent and Treat Summer Sunburns

prevention and treatment of sunburns

Sunburns should be avoided as much as possible all year-round, but special caution needs to be taken during the summer months when the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are most harmful.

According to a survey by the Skin Cancer Foundation, 42% of poll respondents become sunburned at least once per year. It only takes as little as 15 minutes for the sun’ UV rays to damage your skin.

Even minor sunburns can be dangerous: any sunburn that causes your skin to become red, hot, or painful increases your risk of sun damage. Second-degree burns—burns that form blisters or cause peeling—increase your risks of developing skin cancer exponentially.

Fortunately, there are many ways to shield your skin from harmful UV rays and prevent sunburns. Follow our pharmacist’s guide on the prevention and treatment of sunburns to lower your risks for skin damage and skin cancer:

Preventing Sunburns

Sunburns can occur during any season, even on days that are cloudy, cool, or hazy. It is important to be extra cautious around water, sand, snow, and ice, as these materials can reflect the sun’s damaging rays. To prevent sunburns year-round, follow these suggestions:


  • Avoid sun exposure when UV rays are at their strongest. According to the CDC, UV rays in the United States are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If possible, schedule outdoor activities around these hours. If you must be outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible.

  • Keep your skin covered with clothing and accessories. Wearing clothes is one of the best ways to protect your skin from sun damage. When UV rays are strongest, cover as much skin as possible with clothing. Dark-colored clothing can offer better protection against UV rays than lighter colors. Wide-brimmed sunhats and sunglasses also help protect your head, face, and eyes.

  • Apply sunscreen. Sunscreen should be applied at least 30 minutes before going outside. The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests applying approximately 1 oz. of sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Infants under six months of age should be kept out of the sun as much as possible because their delicate skin is easily damaged.


Smith Caldwell Drug carries several internationally recognized lines of sunscreen ranging from 15-100spf. Our pharmacists would be glad to recommend one of our products to suit the needs of you and your loved ones.


Treating Sunburns


Skin damage caused by sunburns is irreversible. However, there are available sunburn treatments that can help reduce pain and swelling, including:


  • Take pain relief medication as instructed by your doctor. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, your doctor may recommend that you take over-the-counter or prescription pain relief medication. When taken as instructed, these products can help reduce pain and swelling. You can use oral medications—such as ibuprofen—or topical gels, creams, and ointments.

  • Apply medication directly to the skin to control itching. To prevent damaging your skin further by scratching an itchy burn, your doctor may recommend the use of corticosteroids in addition to pain relief products. Corticosteroids should be applied to the damaged area daily to control itching. Aloe Vera also works as a natural remedy for sunburn relief and itching.

  • Schedule an office visit with your doctor for severe burns. If your sunburn is causing severe discomfort, forming blisters, or showing signs of infection, schedule an office visit with your doctor. Antibiotics may be needed to treat second-degree burns and prevent infection.

If you have the unfortunate experience of developing a sunburn, Smith Caldwell Drug carries sunburn remedies such as aloe vera, steroid creams, pain relief sprays, and more. Our pharmacists are also available by phone to assist you with other home remedies.

Increasing your awareness about sunburn prevention methods and available treatment options is an important step in reducing skin cancer rates at all ages.

For more information about the prevention and treatment of sunburns, contact the Smith-Caldwell Drug Store at 501-392-5470 to speak with one of our experienced pharmacists.

*Image courtesy of Pixabay.