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Do’s and Don’ts of Sunburns

Sunburn is an inflammatory reaction of the skin to the harmful UV rays of the sun. Sunburns can range from mild redness to blistering. Here are some do’s and don’ts for managing sunburns


  • DO drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated. Burns draw fluid to the skins surface and away from the rest of your body and you may become dehydrated.
  • DO take medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen (only if over 6 months of age) for pain.
  • DO use cold compresses and take cold baths or showers to relieve the pain.
  • DO apply aloe vera gel or moisturizer to use discomfort. 
  • DO take extra care to protect sunburned skin by patting dry your skin after baths and staying out of the sun until your skin is healed.
  • DO try to prevent future sunburns!


  • DON’T use soaps that might irritate your skin
  • DON’T pop blisters, blisters form to help your skin heal and protect you from infection
  • DON’T use petroleum or oil based ointments as they may trap the heat and make the burn worst
  • DON’T pick at peeling skin, allow the dead skin sheets to detach on their own

Please see your health care provider if there is blistering over a large portion of the body, fever, confusion, feel unwell or there are concerns about dehydration.

This post was co-authored by Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc and Erin Manchuk, BScPharm, BCGP. 

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