How Long Does a Sunburn Last?

Have you ever been sunbathing outdoors only to end up with reddish and peeling spots on your body? Well, that is sunburn for you.

Sunburn can be described as visible radiation damage a person gets on the skin when exposed to UV rays. In this case, it is UVB radiation.

Children are the ones with the highest risk of getting sunburns. This is because they have no idea about sunburns and might end up sitting in the sun for too long than necessary. Well, even adults can get sunburns if they do not take the necessary precautions.

Higher elevations have also been known to lead to sunburns too. Still, some medicines can make your skin susceptible to radiation damage.

Having a lighter complexion can still lead to possible sunburns more often. It is why you would be advised to use sunscreen if you have a lighter complexion.

Before I can talk about how long does sunburn lasts, first let us look at the symptoms of having sunburn.

Symptoms of a Sunburn

The symptoms will start to show up within 6 hours after exposure to the sun for extended periods. These symptoms would peak in 24 hours for you to know if it is a mild, moderate, or severe sunburn.

Moderate or severe sunburns can progress further for another 24 hours leaving you with more skin damage and pain. At this point, you can start to see blistering on your skin. Other symptoms you may experience include;

  • Heatstroke
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Fever

Some also experience dehydration due to heatstroke and sunburns.

How Long Will It Last?

Back to our question, how long does sunburn last? Well, this largely depends on the severity of the sunburn.

If it is a mild sunburn, expect it to last for around three days. As for the moderate sunburn, it will last for 5 days and then it might be followed by skin peeling.

Severe sunburns are the worst. These can easily last for over a week. Sometimes you may have to seek further medical attention from a doctor to deal with it better.

Depending on the severity of the sunburn, you can also experience a lot of pain in some cases. The pain can be the worst from 6 to 48 hours after experiencing a sunburn. The peeling of the skin can start three to eight days after the sunburn day.

With proper care and precautions, you should be able to heal the sunburn in a few days or weeks if the damage was severe.

Can You Treat Sunburns?

A sunburn is not something you can treat. You have to let the skin heal itself over a couple of days or weeks. However, there are some things you can do to ease the discomfort as a result of sunburns.

Whenever you notice a sunburn, take a cold shower or bath or simply apply a cool and wet cloth to the affected area. This will make it possible to relieve the discomfort faster and take much of the heat out of your skin.

You may also want to consider drinking a lot of water generally. This is vital to prevent dehydration. At this point, the body is directing most of its fluids to the damaged area to help heal the skin faster.

A moisturizer would also be great to soothe the skin even better. The moisturizer would also prevent the skin from easily drying out. Consider a moisturizer containing aloe vera. As we all know, aloe vera is quite the magic plant with many benefits to your skin.

Some also consider using pain relief medications such as aspirin. This can also help in reducing discomfort and swelling.

You are advised not to pop the swellings. This could easily lead to infections. In case the blisters pop, cover them with a light dressing to keep bacteria and other contaminants out.

How to Prevent Sunburns

Well, you can prevent sunburns all you have to do is take some precautions.

You may want to stay out from the sun when it is 10 a.m. up to 4 p.m. It is during this time that the sun’s rays are strong and the UV exposure is too high.

What if it is cloudy? Some people think that when it is cloudy then they are safe. No. The rays can also be reflected off the water or even snow thus leading to sunburns. So, even those who love to ski or sail will need to take precautions.

Here are more tips to consider using if you want to avoid sunburns.

  • Pick a sunscreen with a sun protection factor or SPF of 15 or more
  • The sunscreen should still be within the recommended use dates
  • Always apply enough sunscreen on the skin. Do not go around skimping on sunscreen as it would be effective to prevent sunburns
  • The sunscreen that you buy should be water-resistant
  • The sunscreen should be able to protect you from UVA and UVB sun rays
  • Apply the sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes earlier before heading out into the sun. This gives the skin enough time to absorb the sunscreen
  • In case you use a lip balm, it should have an SPF of 15 and above

Wearing long-sleeved clothing can be great to keep the sun rays out and help you get the best outdoor experience.

What Not to Do After a Sunburn

As much as sometimes you may experience discomfort, there are some things you do not want to do to your sunburned skin. Here are some;

  • Do not start picking the sunburned skin. This can easily slow down the overall healing process. It can also lead to skin tears.
  • In case you get blisters, consider covering them to help them heal faster before applying aloe vera
  • You should not keep the house too warm after a sunburn. Trying keeping it cool as a way of taking the heat away from the skin to cool it further
  • You should avoid any further exposure to the sun to help the wounds heal faster


Sunburns can affect the overall appearance and health of your skin. It is why you always have to take precautions to avoid getting sunburns. Well, I cannot forget to mention the discomfort, skin peeling, and pain that might come as a result of a sunburn. As such, you would want to take more time to implement precautions to keep the UV rays from damaging your skin.

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