Severe Sunburn: When to go to the Emergency Room 

Many Texans are accustomed to the high temperatures in the spring and summer, and we know what to do to protect our skin. Sometimes, when your skin is not protected by sunscreen or clothes, you run the risk of getting sunburned. 

Extreme sunburn Should I Go to ERWhat should I avoid doing with a sunburn?

  • Avoid popping blisters.
  • Avoid exfoliating.
  • Don’t peel the skin aggressively.
  • Avoid alcohol-based creams.

What should I do when I have a sunburn?

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Take the recommended dosage of an anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen or aspirin
  • Use topical treatments on the sunburn.
  • Do not go back out into the heat until your sunburn has healed.

When you have a bad sunburn, this increases your risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Read these other tips from the American Academy of Dermatology on how to treat sunburns:

Occasionally, a sunburn can be more severe. Keep a close eye on the area of skin for the following symptoms.

Symptoms of a severe sunburn:

  • Burn with a high fever
  • Widespread blistering
  • Extreme pain
  • Headache, confusion, trouble with vision
  • Nausea 
  • Chills
  • Severe Dehydration

If you or someone you know develops any of the symptoms listed above with a severe sunburn, you should go to a medical professional. These symptoms could lead to additional heat-related illness or indicate an infection.

Sunburn & Heat-Related Illness

Heat-related illness can happen with prolonged exposure to very hot and humid weather. 

Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency that occurs when your core body temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. 

Primary Symptoms of Heat Stroke

If you have the following symptoms with a severe sunburn, you should visit the Emergency Room.

  • Headache
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting
  • Very high fever

These symptoms could indicate a more serious condition, like heat stroke. If you begin to feel sick shortly after reducing or eliminating your sun exposure, it’s more likely that the symptoms could become life-threatening.

Symptoms of heat stroke are similar to those of a severe sunburn, but the symptoms are more intense.

Other Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • High body temperature – 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Muscle cramps and weakness
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Extreme headache
  • Confusion, seizures, hallucinations, or difficulty speaking
  • Lack of sweating despite hot external temperatures

Should I go to an Emergency Room or Urgent Care Clinic?

If you are unsure whether or not your severe sunburn should be seen by an ER or Urgent care, please call the facility, and they will assist you. Here’s the contact information for Five Star ER:

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is a freestanding Emergency Room that provides excellent 24 hour care. We are located in South Austin, Pflugerville and Dripping Springs.


This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Moreover, if you have medical questions, seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider. Never disregard professional medical advice. Don’t delay medical treatment because of something you have read on the internet. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911, or go to your nearest Emergency Room immediately.  


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