The sun can be your best friend in the summer, and also your biggest enemy to your skin.

Summer is in full swing, and it’s the time of the season for taking dips in the pool, staying active outdoors and unfortunately for many, getting burnt. Burn wound care is an often overlooked aspect to the summer, and knowing when your skin is starting to show signs that you need medical treatment is essential in avoiding further infection or disease spreading bacteria. From staying out in the sun too long, brushing against the grill or lighting fireworks, there are all sorts of unforeseen ways to scorch yourself. Here are a few indications that your skin might be more burnt than you thought, how to treat minor burns before they progress into more severe injuries and when to know that it’s time to see a clinician for your skin condition.

Signs of severe burn

It’s practically inevitable that if you’re going to spend some time under the sun, grilling hotdogs or sitting close to the campfire, you are extremely likely to endure at least a first-degree burn at some point. This is only when the top of your skin layers are injured, and generally only produce symptoms of redness, mild swelling and minor discomfort. Simply applying aloe or moisturizing lotion is usually enough to see these minor burns go away, but more often than not, beginning stages of second to third-degree burns often go untreated or mistaken for first-degree symptoms.

One of the biggest indicators that severe skin damage has been endured is when blister development starts to take place. While blisters can eventually heal on their own, it’s the fact that they often signal that more skin reactions could take place which is alarming. After the formation of blisters, blotchy redness, gradual itching and irritation can also begin to accumulate.

Treating a minor burn

According to the Mayo Clinic, if your burn is no larger than 3 inches in diameter, you can effectively treat it at home. First off, you will want to cool down the burnt area by running cool, not cold, water over it for at least 10 minutes. One of the biggest misconceptions in burn wound care is the idea that you have to apply ice to the injured area. This can cause pain and irritation that can be more unbearable than the singed skin itself, and also won’t assist in reducing swelling.

When choosing a wound dressing for a first- or second-degree burn, using a sterile gauze bandage to cover the burnt skin is your best bet for enhancing healing. This will help keep air exposure to the wound at a minimum, but make sure not to wrap the gauze too tightly to the burn, because that can provoke further irritation.

When it’s time to see a doctor

A relatively unknown aspect to severe third-degree burns is that sometimes they won’t even produce experiences of pain because the tissue or muscles underneath the burnt skin have completely been damaged. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that nerve damage can be indicated through sensations of numbness within a sunburn and if your skin is feeling stiff, appearing leathery or producing waxy white substances, it’s definitely time to receive medical attention as soon as possible.