The most common symptoms associated with sunburn include burning, pain and erythema of the affected area. This is usually a superficial epidermal burn.
Burns could be superficial epidermal (outer skin layer), partial thickness (superficial dermal or deep dermal- the dermis is the deep skin layer) or full thickness (involving all skin layers). The latter two may involve blister (fluid filled bubbles) formation and be skin dryness. If the nerves are extensively damaged, there may be absence of pain.
To assess the extent/severity of a burn or the body surface area involved, the 'rule of nines' is adopted:
• Head - 9%
• Arm - 9%
• Leg - 18%
• Palm - 1%
• Genitals - 1%
• Front of torso - 18%
• Back of torso - 18%
Superficial burns with no complications can be managed conservative measures for cooling, including ice cooling (not the ice bucket though!) or a cool bath. Analgesics for the pain, especially anti inflammatory drugs (like iboprufen) are necessary. Emollient creams must be applied along with antihistamines (like Fenistil, topical +/- tablets if itching is severe) to prevent itching. Silver sulfadiazine (Flamazine) can be applied to superficial burns to prevent secondary infection. Another good option is sesame-oil based ointment (Mebo).
Peep dermal or full thickness burns, or superficial dermal burns that involve > 10% affected skin area require medical attention.