by Amy Scholten, MPH
Sunburn is red and painful skin. It is due to being in exposed to too much sunlight or indoor tanning devices. Over time, it can raise the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.
Sunburn is caused when skin is exposed to UV rays for too long. This happens from spending too much time in the sun or indoor tanning devices.
Things that may raise the risk of sunburn are:
Sunburns can vary from mild to severe. This depends on a person's skin type and how much time they were exposed. Symptoms may appear within a few hours of being exposed.
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. It will focus on the skin. This is enough to make the diagnosis. Severe sunburns may need to be seen by a doctor who treats skin problems.
Treatment depends on how bad the sunburn is. The goal is to manage symptoms and heal the skin. Choices are:
To lower the risk of sunburn:
American Academy of Dermatology
Skin Cancer Foundation
Canadian Dermatology Association
Holman, D; Ding, H. Prevalence of sun protection use and sunburn and association of demographic and behaviorial characteristics with sunburn among US adults. JAMA Dermatol. 2018;154(5):561-568.
Minor burns. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/minor-burns. Accessed January 5, 2021.
Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs. Accessed January 5, 2021.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD