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Sunburn Blisters: Signs, Symptoms, And Treatment

Posted on July 10 2020

couple sun bathing at the beach

A day in the sun is great, but too much sun exposure could leave you with a nasty sunburn, sun poisoning, and even sunburn blisters.

If you’ve burnt your skin to a crisp and blisters are showing up, don’t freak out! While sunburn blisters are painful, with the right care, they usually heal by themselves.

Here at Babo Botanicals, we’re all about sun safety and good skin care! In this article, we’ll tell you the signs and symptoms of sunburn blisters as well as how to treat them.

And, because no one wants to get those awful blisters again, we’ll also go over how to prevent them.

Signs And Symptoms Of Sunburn Blisters

Pretty much everyone knows what a mild, run-of-the-mill sunburn looks and feels like: pink or red skin that’s tender to the touch and peels a couple of days later.

mans back with signs of sunburn blisters

But, when you develop sunburn blisters, it means that the sun’s UV rays have left you with a second-degree burn. This is a severe sunburn.

What do these blisters look and feel like? Here are four ways to know that you’re dealing with sunburn blisters.

1) Development After Sun Exposure

In general, sunburn is at its worst around 24 hours after sun exposure. Similarly, you can notice sunburn blisters pop up anywhere between a few hours up to one day after being outside.

2) White Or Clear Lesions

Sunburn blisters are small, clear or white, and filled with fluid. You might have a cluster of tiny blisters that covers a large area of skin.

A blister that’s half an inch in diameter or bigger is considered a large blister.

3) Red, Swollen Skin

Since sunburn blisters are the direct result of a severe sunburn, in addition to the blisters, you’ll also have all of the other typical signs of a severe sunburn.

The skin around the blisters will be red and maybe a bit swollen.

4) Pain And Itching

Sunburn is uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Blisters are, undoubtedly, painful as well, but the pain will likely be more severe with blisters than with a simple sunburn.

You might also notice that your blisters are extremely itchy.

When To Call A Doctor

A mild sunburn doesn’t require care from a doctor, but a severe sunburn sometimes does! There are three reasons to call a doctor about your sunburn blisters.

doctor checking sunburn blisters

If You Have An Infected Blister

While painful, sunburn blisters usually heal by themselves and don’t require a trip to see the doc. The problem is when a blister becomes infected, which is more likely to happen if it pops.

If you notice red streaks around your blister or pus (a white or yellowish liquid) coming out, it’s time to call the doctor.

If You Have Sun Poisoning

Sun poisoning is another reason to seek medical attention. If you’re suffering from a sunburn that’s severe enough to develop blisters, sun poisoning is certainly not out of the question!

Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms: 

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Severe pain or swelling

If You’re Unsure

It’s not too hard to figure out whether or not you have sunburn blisters — if those fluid-filled lesions crop up a few hours after your day in the sun, it’s a pretty sure bet!

But if you’re concerned about them or unsure whether the bumps on your skin are sunburn blisters or something else, make an appointment to see a doctor or dermatologist right away.

Better safe than sorry!

Treating Sunburn Blisters

woman with sign of sunburn blisters

A severe sunburn leaves you at more of a risk for developing skin cancer. This is one reason why sun protection is so important!

But as far as the blisters go, you can usually count on them to heal by themselves in about a week, though you may be left with scars.

What’s the best way to care for your blisters and the rest of your sunburned skin in the meantime? Let’s take a look.

1) Don’t Pick Or Peel The Blisters

As annoying and painful as blisters can be, don’t pick or peel them! If you open a blister, there’s a higher chance of it becoming infected, which is exactly what you don’t want to happen.

If you have an especially big blister that is painful or getting in the way and you just have to get rid of it, pop it by carefully pricking the base of the blister with a sterilized needle. Then gently press on the blister to remove the fluid.

2) Keep A Popped Blister Covered

Whether you popped the blister or it did so by itself, once it’s open, your job is to keep it covered. Apply antibiotic ointment and put a bandage on.

3) Cool Off

Your sunburned skin will feel better if you cool off a bit. Take a cool shower or bath, or apply a cold compress (like a washcloth soaked in cool water). Just don’t put ice directly on your sunburnt skin.

When you shower or bathe, use a gentle soap that won’t irritate your already-damaged skin. Try Babo Botanicals’s Swim & Sport Shampoo & Wash.

Babo Botanicals’s Swim & Sport Shampoo & Wash

Made with natural aloe vera and cucumber to moisturize and comfort your skin, this multi-purpose wash is just what your hair and skin need after a day at the pool or the beach.

Even better, it’s hypoallergenic, gluten-free, sulfate-free, and paraben-free — gentle enough to use on your little ones and effective enough for any age!

4) Apply After Sun Soothing Hydrating Aloe Gel

Cool, heal, and hydrate your burnt skin by applying Babo Botanicals’s After Sun Soothing Hydrating Aloe Gel.

This quick-absorbing gel contains 75% organic aloe vera juice as well as green tea, witch hazel, arnica, and eucalyptus oil to treat your parched skin to all sorts of goodness!

Our cooling gel forms a protective barrier to retain moisture in your skin and promote healing. Plus, it’s a plant-based formula and specially designed for sensitive skin, so you can be sure you aren’t putting any harsh chemicals or irritants on your already-damaged skin.

5) Take Ibuprofen

Sunburns can be pretty painful. Add blisters on top of it and you’re probably hurting! Take ibuprofen to calm swelling and ease some of the pain.

6) Stay Out Of The Sun

This might seem obvious, but it’s worth saying: stay out of the sun! Your blistered skin is already damaged from those UV rays. Any more sun exposure will only make things worse.

Avoid being outside, and stay away from the tanning bed. If you have to be in the sun, cover up with loose clothing that won’t hurt your blisters but will protect you from the sun’s strong rays.

7) Stay Hydrated

While lotion hydrates your skin from the outside-in, a big glass of water hydrates your skin from the inside-out! Because the sun is super drying, do your skin a favor by drinking a few extra glasses of water.

man staying hydrated

Preventing Sunburn Blisters

Want to make sure you never get sunburn blisters again? Seems like a good idea.

To prevent sunburn and blisters, sun protection is a must! Get into a routine with these habits and you’ll be good to go:

  • Wear an effective, safe sunscreen
  • Reapply sunscreen frequently
  • Avoid being outside during peak hours (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Apply face sunscreen every day
  • Use a lipstick or chapstick with SPF

When choosing a sunscreen, don’t forget to look for a broad-spectrum, mineral sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.

Consider trying Babo Botanicals’s Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 to protect you and your kids and keep the coral reefs safe at the same time!

 Babo Botanicals’s Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

Read our full article about these seven sun protection steps here.

Be Safe In The Sun

family holding hands outside

A severe sunburn is no good for your skin, and the resulting sunburn blisters are painful!

Take care of your damaged skin by following the tips we listed above. Remember to leave the blisters alone, apply Babo Botanicals’s After Sun Soothing Hydrating Aloe Gel, stay out of the sun, and drink plenty of water!

And, for your and your family’s future sunny adventures, remember to practice good sun safety so sunburn and sunburn blisters stay far away!

With Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 and other protective measures, you’ll be able to safely enjoy your time in the great outdoors.

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