Can Sunburns Scar?

So you stayed out in the sun a little too long and now you have a sunburn. Ouch. This is ever pleasant, but sunburns usually fade in a day or two. However, in the case of excessive sun burning, you may be concerned that it could scar.

The answer is it depends on the extent of the exposure and how bad the burn is. Certainly, prolonged sun exposure can lead to blistering and second-degree burns. However, it’s rare for a severe sunburn to lead to a third-degree burn or scarring. That being said,burn marks are fairly common. After all, the skin is the most exposed organ in the body.


The degree of the burn matters. Burn injuries can be classified into three main groups: first, second and third degree burns. The higher up you go in degree, the more serious the resulting burn is. Depending on the severity and seriousness, you may have to go to the ER or see your doctor.

First degree burns don’t usually leave scars since they only impact the epidermis. However,  second and third degree burns could leave scars because they impact the dermis. That’s why you need to properly care for burned skin right away. This can involve the application of special burn creams or ointments, combined with dressings, then followed up with Scarfade treatment.

In the case of severe burns,  you can’t fully prevent burn scar formation because these wounds usually form hypertrophic scars or keloids. But it’s possible to reduce the appearance of scars from minor burns by applying cool running water to the area and then letting it air dry. If a burn happens on a joint, you could experience a contracture scar that limits movement.

Depending on severity and location, burn scars have a higher risk of resulting in hypertrophic scars and keloids because burns from injuries have a more prolonged period of inflammation. This is a top risk factor for scar formation.  

In other words, the longer it takes for the burn to heal, the more likely you will get hypertrophic scarring. There are other factors at play here as well, such as dark skin types and the size of the burn area.

Sunburn Scars

Second degree sunburns, also known as blistering sunburns, can cause scars over a large portion of the body. Never pop the blisters because the underlying skin is very delicate and could get infected or further injured. Gently apply Scarfade or aloe vera, drink plenty of water, and let your skin heal on its own. Once the initial burn heals, apply Scarfade twice a day to lessen the appearance of any scars that may be forming.

Going forward, practice good burn prevention techniques such as applying a high SPF sunscreen, staying in the shade and wearing hats in the sun.