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Dr. Andrew Rynne
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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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What is the best treatment for severe sunburn with blistering?

Answered by
Dr.
Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3129 Questions

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Posted on Sat, 20 Aug 2016 in Skin Hair and Nails
Question: What is the best treatment for severe sunburn with blistering?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 36 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Second degree burn.

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

If the burned area is blistering, then it is a second degree burn. When second degree burns are more than 3 inches in area, as I assume yours is, then medical treatment is necessary.

Aloe vera is helpful for small areas where the skin is not broken, and cool (not cold) clean, wet towels on the burned areas can provide some relief. Also take Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) to relieve pain. When taking ibuprofen, take after eating so it doesn't bother your stomach. Elevate the burned area as much as possible. If blisters break, apply an antibiotic ointment and cover with a clean bandage.

But do go in to be seen promptly if the burned area is more than 3 inches, as this is considered a major burn.

Later, you will need to take very careful precautions to protect the damaged skin from further sun damage or any other kind of harm

I hope this information helps.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 48 minutes later
Should first thing in the morning be soon enough? There is an urgent care center near us that is very good. They open at 8am. Or should we go to e r tonight? So far we are applying cool compresses of milk and water mixture, or just water, applying aloe, giving lots of fluids to drink, and giving ibuprofen. There is one large blister which is yellowish, approximately 1 3/4" x 1 1/4, no white streaks coming from it, then larger areas of smaller blisters. You're correct, the entire area is more than 3", the shoulder and upper back/chest area.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 25 minutes later
Brief Answer:
When to go in:

Detailed Answer:
The main concerns with a severe and extensive burn are fluid and electrolyte losses and risk of infection. Also the risk of scarring.

If he is quite uncomfortable or seems ill in any way, he should go in to the ER tonight. He should also go in tonight if the burned area is 20% or more of his total body surface area. Here is a chart to help calculate the surface area burned: http://www.etoolsage.com/Calculator/TBSA_Calculation.asp?toolsort=1500







Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 6 minutes later
Thanks very much. You answered all of our questions.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 33 minutes later
Brief Answer:
I hope he is better soon.

Detailed Answer:
I am glad to help, but also concerned to make recommendations without seeing him.

While he is healing, it is also a good idea to supplement with vitamins C, E, selenium, and zinc.

Second degree burns take around 14 days to heal, although the larger blister may take longer because it represents a deep second degree burn.

And one last thing - I am not familiar with using milk with water, although if it is clean and not contaminated in any way, it doesn't sound harmful. Cleanliness is of utmost importance now because the damaged skin is at risk.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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