Clinical Hub,Patient Education,Health and Nutrition Facts For You,Burn

Sun Protection for Burn Patients (4295)

Sun Protection for Burn Patients (4295) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Burn


Sun Protection
For burn patients

Just say no to ultraviolet rays! Now that
your burns and grafts have healed, it is time
to learn about taking care of this new,
sensitive skin. Your new skin is very likely
to be damaged by the sun’s rays, so give it a
little tender loving care.

Sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation or UV
rays. These rays are in two groups:
ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B
(UVB). UVA rays do not cause painful
damage, but can be sneaky. Over time, they
can damage our DNA and cause premature
aging. The UBS rays are those that cause
damage to skin. Damage not only means a
painful sunburn but also refers to skin
cancers, cosmetic problems, and cataracts
that may result. Sunburns can occur from
direct sunlight, on cloudy days, from water
or snow glare, or even in what appears to be
a shaded area.

Your New Skin
The skin’s natural defenses against sun rays
are not enough. Skin that has been burned
and/or grafted will damage more easily.
This is also true of any donor sites, as they
have “grown” new skin. This new skin is
more likely to be affected by UV light for
the rest of your life, or until the skin has
“matured.” This process can take one to two

Exposure of burn-injured skin to any
sunlight is discouraged until all the red color
has faded. Wounds may turn very dark
brown or blotchy even after only brief
exposure to the sun. Unprotected skin can
experience a slight sunburn in as little as 12
minutes on a summer day.

UV light can cause permanent color
changes. This means that grafted or old
burned areas will be “tanned” long after the
rest of a body’s tan has faded. It can also
cause increased scarring. This can affect
one’s appearance as well as the way the
body functions. You may not be able to see
the scarring right away, even though it will

A Little TLC
Clothes protect against UV rays. When
using clothes for sun shielding, it is best to
wear a wide-brimmed hat to shield the face,
long-sleeved shirts to protect the arms and
chest, long pants to cover burns or grafts on
the legs, and leather or cotton gloves to
protect the hands. Pressure garments or
loosely-meshed garments (football shirts) do
not provide a good barrier to rays. Regular
clothing over the pressure garment works
best. Sunscreen under the pressure garment
can add short term burn prevention.

Sunscreens give your skin the tender loving
care it deserves. Make sun shielding or
sunscreen a part of your daily routine.
Sunscreens are products that absorb sun rays
and protect against scarring and pigment
color changes. The best way to choose a
sunscreen is to check the SPF, or Sun
Protection Factor number. Use one with an
SPF number of 30 or more. The number

means the sunscreen will protect your skin
30 times longer in the sun than skin with no
sunscreen applied. Use opaque creams
rather than clear gel sunscreens for better
sun protection. Look for sunscreen with
parsol. Avoid using an alcohol-based
sunscreens as they may dry or irritate the

Use children’s PABA free sunscreens for
infants and children less than six years of
age. There are a small number of people
who develop a rash from PABA. PABA-
free sunscreens that contain benzophenones
also work well in blocking UVA and UVB
rays. Sports sunscreens work well on faces
and hands of people of all ages. For dry
skin, use an oil-based sunscreen. For skin
that tends to breakout, use a water-based
product. All of these products come in
children’s and adults’ forms. For best
results, a sunscreen must be applied 30 – 60
minutes before going out into the sun.

Apply sunscreen generously. Choose a
sunscreen that is waterproof if you perspire a
lot or will be swimming. Apply sunscreens
as often as the label advises – often this
would be every 90 minutes.

Medicines can make skin more likely to
sunburn. Some antibiotics, water pills, and
birth control pills make the skin more
sensitive to UV light. Check with your
doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any
medicine. Do not use tanning creams over
grafted or donor areas until the skin has
matured, 12 – 18 months post-graft.

You can say “no” to UV rays and still say
“yes” to fun in the sun!

Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 7/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4295