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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Dermatology & Skin Care > Sunburn Treatment

Sunburn Treatment Cost


How Much Does Sunburn Treatment Cost?

 
average costOver-the-Counter Aids: $2-$25high costOutpatient Treatment: $50-$200+

Sunburns are caused by over exposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or man-made sources like tanning beds, and can affect any part of the body, including the lips and scalp. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention[1] , they usually appear about four hours after exposure, worsen over the next 24-36 hours, and resolve within three to five days. Sunburns can damage skin cell DNA and increase the risk for eventually developing skin cancer and other skin ailments.

Typical costs:

  • Over-the-counter aids to treat pain, redness, swelling or other sunburn symptoms typically cost $2-$25. For example, the Ace Reusable Cold Compress costs $2.79. Other remedies, including antihistamine pills such as Benadryl and 1% hydrocortisone cream cost $5-$10. Anti-inflammatory aids such as ibuprofen can cost about $5-$25, depending on the quantity and whether the patient buys a name brand or its generic equivalent.
  • Those seeking medical treatment for severe sunburn would do so through an office visit with a primary care physician, which is typically covered by health insurance. For patients covered by health insurance, out-of-pocket costs typically consist of a copay of $10 -$50 or more, or coinsurance of 10-50% or more.
  • For patients without health insurance, an office visit typically costs $50-$200 or more. According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey[2] , a set of large-scale surveys on the use and cost of health services conducted by the AHRQ, the average price of an office visit for an uninsured patient is $199.
Related articles: Rosacea Treatment, Poison Ivy or Poison Oak Treatment, Acne Treatments, Birthmark Removal, Scar Removal

What should be included:
  • Dermatologist Ronald R. Brancaccio[3] , spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology[4] , advises patients to consult a physician if home care doesn't help, or the burns occupy a large area of the body and are beginning to blister, which can lead to secondary infections. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic recommends[5] consulting a doctor if a sunburn is accompanied by fever, headache, confusion, fatigue or severe pain, or any signs of infection.
  • According to the Mayo Clinic, a doctor will likely conduct a physical exam to note the extent of the burn and any blistering, and ask for details about symptoms and sunburn history. Since a doctor can recognize a sunburn on sight, no testing will be required.
Additional costs:
  • The doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid like Prednisone[6] , which is typically covered by insurance and can cost from just a few dollars to about $25, and/or a topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like diclofenac[7] (up to $100, depending on dosage, without insurance; about $15 with insurance, depending on dosage and plan) to curb swelling, pain, and itching. An oral antibiotic may also be necessary if a bacterial infection has developed.
  • Additional over-the-counter products such as moisturizing creams can cost $1.49- $24. For example, the dermatologist-recommended and fragrance-free Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion[8] costs about $11.
Discounts:
  • The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services[9] suggests patients ask for a free sample or trial prescription of a drug, or ask doctors whether a less expensive over-the-counter drug may be sufficient to treat the condition.
  • Outlets such as Costco[10] and Walmart[11] often sell prescription and over-the-counter drugs at significant savings. Walmart, for example, has a prescription drug program[12] that includes certain generic drugs at commonly prescribed dosages.
Shopping for sunburn treatment:
  • To prevent sunburns, experts recommend[13] limiting sun exposure and using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. The Mayo Clinic has tips for selecting sunscreen[14] .
  • Ten states have tools on their websites that allow consumers to compare the costs of drugs in nearly all pharmacies within their states.
  • When buying drugs online, make sure the website carries a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site[15] seal from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. If the web site is Canadian, make sure the site is certified by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association[16] .
  • Before a doctor's visit for severe sunburn, the Mayo Clinic recommends[17] that patients list any medications, herbs or vitamins they're taking as some may heighten sensitivity to UV radiation.
  • The American Academy of Dermatology has a search tool[18] to help patients search for dermatologists nearby for free.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
 
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External Resources:
  1.  www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/uvradiation/
  2.  meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_files/publications/st318/stat318.shtml
  3.  www.med.nyu.edu/biosketch/brancr01
  4.  www.aad.org/
  5.  www.mayoclinic.com/health/sunburn/DS00964
  6.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000091/
  7.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000882/
  8.  www.cvs.com/shop/product-detail/Cetaphil-Moisturizing-Lotion?skuId=305441
  9.  www4.egov.nh.gov/Medicine-Cabinet/?EXTKEY=I060OSOH
  10.  www.costco.com/
  11.  www.walmart.com/cp/pharmacy/5431
  12.  www.walmart.com/cp/1078664
  13.  www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/sunburn-prevention
  14.  www.mayoclinic.com/health/best-sunscreen/MY01350
  15.  www.nabp.net/programs/accreditation/vipps/find-a-vipps-online-pharmacy/
  16.  www.cipa.com/
  17.  www.mayoclinic.com/health/sunburn/DS00964/DSECTION=preparing-for-your-appointment
  18.  www.aad.org/for-the-public/home
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