Is It Normal To Get Blisters After A Sunburn?

Any sunburn is bad enough, but in some cases, you may notice blisters starting to form on the burned area of the skin. Is this normal? It depends on how bad the burn is. Blisters are an indication of a second-degree burn, which is a serious sunburn that needs to be treated with care, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

The blisters form because the burn has actually broken bindings between cells in the skin, according to Joshua Zeichner, M.D. at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He tells Prevention, "Sun blisters develop when the skin becomes so inflamed that connections between skin cells become disrupted. This leads to splitting of the skin, which ultimately fills with serous fluid," he says.

The important thing is to leave the blisters alone and to refrain from popping them. They're acting as a bit of a Band-Aid, protecting the raw skin beneath, according to Zeichner. Popping them also leaves a wound that is susceptible to infection. If a blister pops on its own, cover the area with antibiotic ointment and a loose bandage.

Blisters tend to itch. So if you experience serious discomfort, you may need to visit your doctor for medication to help with the itching and swelling, according to Healthline.

How to treat a severe sunburn

If blisters are present on your skin after spending time in the sun, then damage to the nerve endings and deep layers of the skin may have occurred (via WebMD). Chances of melanoma increase significantly after just one second-degree sunburn. This is why sun protection with sunscreen, shade, and sun protective clothing is always important.

For a serious sunburn, especially one that develops blisters, there are a few things that the American Academy of Dermatology recommends you do to help alleviate pain and discomfort. For instance, take a cool bath or shower. As you dry off with your towel, rather than scrubbing yourself dry, leave skin a little bit damp. Apply lotion over the area to help trap moisture into the skin.

Additionally, drink more water than you usually would. When burned, your body's water is redirected to your skin's surface, leaving you feeling dehydrated. Consuming excess fluids will help keep you hydrated. 

If you experience swelling or pain, consider taking aspirin or ibuprofen. A moisturizer that contains aloe or soy to provide topical relief may also be helpful. Do not use products ending in "-caine" as they can further irritate inflamed skin.

Be sure to provide extra protection to sunburned skin when going outside. In doing so, you will give skin time to heal and rejuvenate itself.