There's nothing worse than a sunburn in the summer. It hurts, it looks funny, and it means you have to stay inside until it gets better -- or go outside in the hot summer sun fully clothed to protect your burnt-to-a-crisp skin. Why does the sun cook us like a strip of bacon? According to the CDC's web site, "Sunlight consists of infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light, and ultraviolet light consists of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. The UVA rays cause tanning and wrinkling, while UVB rays cause sunburn, aging, wrinkling, and skin cancer."
How to avoid it. It's simple -- either stay inside or wear sunscreen. According to the CDC's web site, "Dermatologists recommend using a full-spectrum sunscreen that blocks or absorbs all UV rays." And of course, don't think just because it's cloudy you can skip the sunscreen. Most UV rays pass right through clouds.
Warning signs. While the sun might feel nice while you're baking underneath it, a few hours later, you'll pay the price if you didn't protect yourself with sunscreen. According to the CDC's web site, "Symptoms usually start about four hours after sun exposure, worsen in 24-36 hours, and resolve in three to five days. In mild sunburn, the skin becomes red, warm, and tender. More serious burns are painful, and the skin becomes swollen and may blister."
What to do. The bad news is, there's really no way to treat a sunburn -- you just need to ride it out. The CDC recommends aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to relieve pain and headache and reduce fever; drinking water to help rehydrate; and cool baths.
If the sunburn is more severe and blisters develop, the CDC's web site recommends, "Lightly bandage or cover the area with gauze to prevent infection. The blisters should not be broken, as this will slow the healing process and increase the risk of infection."