Holiday Health

How to treat sunburn while traveling

It had been a great day at the beach. Clear blue water, overhanging palm trees, pristine white sand and plenty of glorious sunshine. As the sun warmth waned with sunset, the glow of Jack’s body waxed as the evening progressed.By midnight, he was in agony. His skin became as red as a boiled Maine lobster and excruciating to the touch. He was unable to sleep and felt feverish. The following day, the skin on his shoulders and back began to blister and ooze a sticky fluid.

–      A traveler oblivious to the harmful effects of the sun

If you are careless and get sunburn while you are in the middle of a great vacation, how can you possibly treat the sunburn?

Treat mild sunburn as you would any minor burn injury with cool compresses and analgesic sprays or ointments. If you sustain a severe sunburn (such as those falling asleep while in the sun), immediately take a cool bath or shower. Then apply a mild steroid cream such as hydrocortisone to all areas of the body involved.

If blisters are formed, do not puncture them! If the blisters break on their own, gently remove the dead skin fragments with a sterile pair of tweezers. Then apply an antibiotic cream and bandage with a clean dressing which will help protect the wound from infection.

Aspirin, ibuprofen or other no steroidal anti-inflammatory medication may be taken several times a day to relieve fever, pain and swelling. If you are allergic to these types of medications, then take either paracetamol or acetaminophen.

Make sure your tetanus vaccination is up-to-date. Severe cases of sun and heat exposure can result in high fever, chills, nausea and delirium. In these cases, a doctor should be consulted and possibly admission to a hospital.