Sunburn Blisters? Here’s What to Do

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Sunburn blisters are small, fluid-filled bumps that form on skin that has been severely burned by the sun. They are a type of radiation burn caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Sunburns are classified into three degrees based on the size and depth of the burned skin. The higher the degree, the more severe the burn is. Sun blisters are second-degree burns.

Here is a quick explanation of each sunburn degree:

  • First-degree burns are the mildest type of burn. They only affect the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin. Symptoms of a first-degree burn include redness, pain, and swelling.
  • Second-degree burns affect the epidermis and the dermis, the layer of skin below the epidermis. Symptoms of a second-degree burn include redness, pain, swelling, and blistering.
  • Third-degree burns are the most severe type of burn. They destroy the epidermis and the dermis, and may also damage bones, muscles, and tendons. Symptoms of a third-degree burn include white or charred skin, no pain (due to nerve damage), and a leathery texture.

What Causes Sunburn Blisters?

Sun blisters are a type of second-degree burn that occurs when the skin is exposed to too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. The severity of the burn depends on a number of factors, including your skin type, the amount of time you were exposed to the sun, the intensity of the sun, and whether you wore sunscreen or sunblock.

Sun blisters usually appear a few hours after a sunburn, but they can take up to 24 hours to develop. They are caused by the rupture of small blood vessels in the skin, which results in the formation of fluid-filled blisters.

Second-degree sunburns are serious injuries that can be just as damaging as burns caused by fire or chemical exposure. They can cause blisters, redness, swelling, and pain. In some cases, they can also lead to infection.

If you have a second-degree sunburn, it is important to seek medical attention if the blisters cover more than 20% of your body, the symptoms fail to improve after two days, or you have any other concerns. Early medical attention can help to prevent infection and complications.

Sun Blister Symptoms

Sunburns can happen quickly. It can take as little as 15 minutes to get a sunburn, depending on your skin type and the intensity of the sun. The severity of your symptoms will depend on the degree of your burn. If you don’t protect your skin, your symptoms may be more severe.


The severity of a sunburn is determined by the depth of the burn. The following are some of the common symptoms of sunburns:

First-degree burns (superficial)

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Dry, itchy, and peeling skin
  • Pain

Second-degree burns (partial thickness)

  • Blisters
  • Deep redness
  • Severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Wet and glossy skin
  • Severe itch

Third-degree burns (full thickness)

  • White, black, or charred skin
  • No pain (due to destruction of nerve endings)

Sun Poisoning

Sun poisoning is not a medical term, but it is often used to describe a sunburn that is so severe that it requires medical attention.

Symptoms of sun poisoning can include:

  • Blisters: Large, painful blisters that may be filled with clear or bloody fluid.
  • Redness: Severe redness of the skin that may be accompanied by swelling and pain.
  • Fever: A fever of 100°F (38°C) or higher.
  • Chills: Chills or shivering.
  • Headache: A headache that may be severe.
  • Nausea: Nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea.
  • Dehydration: Signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, decreased urination, or fatigue.

How to Get Rid of Sun Blisters

Although most cases of sun blisters can be treated at home, it is important to seek medical attention if your symptoms do not improve within a week.

Home Remedies

  • Keep the skin moist. Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly, aloe vera, or moisturizing cream to the blistered area. You can also cover it with gauze coated in petroleum jelly. This will help to prevent the skin from drying out and cracking.
    Drink plenty of water. Blistering skin can cause water loss. Drinking plenty of water will help to prevent dehydration and promote wound healing.
    Use a cold, damp compress. Apply a cold, damp compress to the sunburned area for 20 minutes at a time. This will help to reduce swelling and redness.
    Do not pick or pop the blisters. This can increase the risk of infection and scarring.
  • Take pain relievers: Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen) can reduce swelling and discomfort. Aspirin can also be used, but only by adults.
  • Avoid sun exposure while healing. If you must go outside, wear protective clothing to cover your skin and apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Long-Term Sun Exposure

Excessive sun exposure can damage your skin over time, causing premature aging and even cancer. If you have a history of severe sunburns, you are at an increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, two types of skin cancer.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It usually appears as a red, scaly patch on the skin. Melanoma is a more serious type of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body. It usually appears as a black or brown mole that changes shape, size, or color.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following sunburn symptoms:

  • Blisters that cover more than 20% of your body. This is a sign of a severe sunburn, which can cause significant pain, swelling, and redness. If blisters cover more than 20% of your body, you are at risk of developing a serious infection. The blisters may also rupture, which can lead to further infection. If you have blisters that cover more than 20% of your body, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
  • Fever, nausea, chills, or headaches.
  • These are symptoms of sun poisoning, which is a more serious condition than a sunburn. Sun poisoning can cause a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, nausea, vomiting, chills, and headaches. In some cases, sun poisoning can lead to seizures or even death. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
  • Blisters that turn yellow or red over time. This could indicate an infection, which will need to be treated with antibiotics. Infected blisters may also become painful, swollen, and red. If you notice that your blisters are turning yellow or red, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Preventing Sun Blisters

Sunburns are harmful to your skin and can increase your risk of skin cancer. They can age skin cells and lead to the development of solar lentigo, also known as liver spots. Prolonged sun exposure, especially during the summer, can also increase your risk of developing all major forms of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

To reduce the risk of sun damage, avoid the sun’s strongest rays between 11am and 4pm. This is when the UV index is at its highest.

If you must be outdoors during these hours, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. This type of sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming.

You can also protect your skin from the sun by wearing protective clothing, such as a hat and sunglasses. These items will help to block the sun’s rays from reaching your skin.


Sun blisters are a sign of second-degree burns that can occur after prolonged exposure to the sun. They may appear a few hours after exposure, or it may take up to 24 hours for them to develop.

Symptoms of second-degree sunburn include the formation of blisters, deep redness, and severe pain. In most cases, blisters can be treated at home. However, if blisters cover more than 20% of the body, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

At-home remedies for sun blisters include drinking plenty of fluids, applying a moisturizer such as soy or aloe vera, using a cold compress, and taking pain medication. It is also important to avoid further sun exposure, as this can worsen the sunburn and increase the risk of infection.

Sunburn can age the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. Therefore, it is important to take preventive measures to reduce sun exposure. This includes wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, seeking shade when possible, and wearing protective clothing such as a hat and sunglasses.

If you do get a sunburn, it is important to get out of the sun as soon as possible. If blisters develop, it is important to keep them clean and covered. You should also avoid scratching the blisters, as this can increase the risk of infection.

Sunburn is a common condition, but it can also be serious especially if it has developed blisters. If you have any concerns about your sunburn, it is important to see a doctor.

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