The time it takes to burn can vary from one individual to another. A
fair-skinned person with light hair and eyes typically burns the
quickest, while a dark-skinned person can withstand longer exposure. In
addition, medications like birth control pills and certain antibiotics
can make skin more sensitive to UV light. One of the dangerous aspects
of sunburn is that by the time you turn red, damage has already
occurred. Pain and redness may continue to increase hours later.
to eight days after the burn, the injured skin typically peels. A mild
sunburn with a deep pink color, heat, and some burning can be treated
with cool compresses, by soaking in a cool bath, or by applying aloe
vera gel. Avoid bath oils and harsh soaps. For moderate burns in which
skin is red, itchy, and stinging, over-the-counter steroid creams can
be applied and acetaminophen (ah-see-toe-MIN-uh-fin) taken for pain
relief. Never use petroleum jelly, butter, or ointment on a sunburn.
Also, avoid creams or sprays with benzocaine (BEHN-zoh-kane), since
this chemical can trigger an allergic reaction. If a sunburn is severe
or is accompanied by fever, chills, nausea, dizziness, rapid pulse, or
clammy skin, see a doctor immediately.