Sunburn: duration and treatment tips


Do I have only a light or a severe sunburn? What depends on the duration of sunburn and what helps against discomfort? Here you will learn more!

Sunburn: Duration depending on severity

The duration of sunburn depends primarily on how severe the burns are. About four to eight hours after sunbathing, the first symptoms usually appear. 24 to 36 hours after the UV radiation from the sun, the complaints are the worst. Depending on how severe the sunburn is, the symptoms usually go away one to two weeks later.

How do I know how severe my sunburn is?

Sunburn is divided into three different grades, which have different symptoms and also determine whether sunburn home remedies can relieve the discomfort or whether a doctor needs to treat the burns, eg. B. because of a sunstroke . How to differentiate the degrees of severity after each inflammation of the skin:

  • 1st degree sunburn: For mild burns, the skin is reddened, taut, itchy, overheated and sometimes slightly swollen. Touching often causes pain. This type of sunburn can usually be treated well with home remedies or after-sun lotion. It makes sense to cool the skin – this can reduce the duration of sunburn. Adults can cool their burned skin for one or two hours, children and babies much shorter as they cool more quickly. After a week at the latest, the complaints should have subsided.
  • 2nd degree sunburn: the skin peels and blisters develop next to redness. These should be professionally pierced by a doctor so that the liquid contained can run off. Under no circumstances should you puncture yourself – otherwise it can lead to infections. It may take up to two weeks for this type of sunburn to subsided.
  • Third degree sunburn: The strongest sunburn is like a severe burn, in which the uppermost skin layers are destroyed – the skin comes off. Here, too, bubbles appear, the sunburn hurts without touching. Often scars remain behind. Besides the classic symptoms, nausea and fever can also develop. This sunburn should be treated by a doctor, depending on the size of the burns may even require treatment in the hospital. The sunburn duration can be up to six weeks here.

Tips for sunburn

Generally you should best prevent sunburn – because every sunburn can increase the risk of skin cancer . How long we can be in the sun without protection depends primarily on our skin type: 

  • Skin type I: Very light skin, often with freckles, reddish to fair hair, blue or green eyes. This skin type can only stay in the sun without protection for five to ten minutes without risking sunburn.
  • Type II: Light skin, blonde to dark blonde hair, blue or green eyes. Here you should stay without sunburn protection for a maximum of ten to 20 minutes in the sun.
  • Type III: Somewhat darker complexion, dark blond to brown hair, often brown eyes. After 20 to 30 minutes, people with this type should cream or go into the shade.
  • Type IV:  brownish to black skin, dark brown to black hair, brown or black eyes. 30 to 40 minutes, the affected people of this type can enjoy the sun without protection.

Based on the type determination can also determine how high the required SPF is.

In order to stay in the sun without worry and prevent sunburn, the use of sunscreen is essential – and the protection should be renewed regularly. It is also important to protect sensitive parts of the body that are difficult to cream on, for example the scalp, by wearing a hat. For those who want to be on the safe side, they wear a light T-shirt over the bikini – clothing protects well against UV radiation. If you were in the water, you should start applying cream again immediately after drying.