Treating a Sunburn in the Elderly
May 25, 2017With summer approaching, it’s time to think about skin care and your aging loved one. As we age, our skin becomes more sensitive to UV rays, and it’s easier to experience serious sunburns. No matter what race, ethnicity, gender or age, sunburns can have negative health consequences. For the elderly, even a moderate sunburn can be detrimental to their health. However, if you and your elderly loved one forgot to take precautions in the sun and they’ve developed sunburn, there are things you can do to manage it so that the effects are as minimal as possible. Here are the 5 steps for treating sunburn in the elderly:Keep the Skin CoolIt may seem like common sense, but sometimes people forget that when a sunburn happens that they can provide relief and cool the skin down by applying a cold washcloth or ice pack to the affected area. Never apply ice directly to the skin, but wrap it in something first. Often, sitting in front of a fan can help the elderly person feel cooler as well. If your loved one is sunburned and they use the services of a home care aide, make sure they know to keep them as comfortable as possible with the sunburn.Take Anti-Inflammatory MedicineAs long as it doesn’t interfere with any current medications your aging loved one is taking, they can have an over-the-counter painkiller and anti-inflammatory medicine. This can help reduce the pain of the sunburn and make them more comfortable. Avoid home remedies that you might read about on the internet and stick to what is proven to work on sunburns.Avoid DehydrationSunburns can redirect the fluids in the body away from where it is needed, so make sure your aging loved one has plenty of water to drink. The best way to do this is to fill a water bottle with ice and water and encourage them to sip some every few minutes until it is gone.Apply GelSometimes, a cooling gel product like aloe vera can provide relief to a sunburned senior. It’s especially good for the skin after they take a shower or bath, so make sure to instruct any senior care aides that help out about the gel application. Avoid applying lotion to a sunburn as that can aggravate it even more.Be WatchfulSunburns should stop feeling painful after two days at the most. If your aging loved one is getting blisters, chills, a fever, dizziness or generally doesn’t feel well, they could be having a heat stroke or a more serious sunburn than you thought. Seek medical attention right away so your loved one can get the help they need to feel better. Getting outside is very beneficial for seniors and the fear of getting a sunburn shouldn’t prevent them from enjoying sunny days. It doesn’t take long to develop a sunburn—just 10 minutes on a sunny day can do the job. Even on overcast days or in the winter it is possible to get burned. With careful planning, like using sunscreen, hats and sitting in the shade, the elderly can have fun and join in activities they love.