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Medical Hot water and Sunburns?

  1. Aug 8, 2010 #1
    I have heard that warm water helps to open the pores of your skin, and therefore, can release more heat which will aid in the treatment of a sunburn. I was immediately skeptical, but after a few searches I found answers both for and against it. What are the actual physics behind this, and, if a definitive answer can be given, what is it? Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2010 #2
    Personally, I'm pretty sure its completely ridiculous! :P
    A sun 'burn' isn't from your skin getting too hot, its from radiation (mostly ultraviolet) damage. People often get sunburns while skiing, due to the reflectivity of the snow; or on cloudy days (cool, but still irradiated).

    Hot water, and opening poors will have ZERO effect.
  4. Aug 8, 2010 #3
    I appreciate your reply and I thank you. Can you direct towards something that I can see for myself why warm/hot water doesn't work?
  5. Aug 8, 2010 #4


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    It isn't our job to prove to you it doesn't work. The claim is ridiculous and does not address the root cause of a sunburn- UV damage. Unless you can post a credible site which proves it does help, this thread was done before it started.
  6. Aug 8, 2010 #5
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_burn is plenty.
  7. Aug 9, 2010 #6
    A sunburn is still considered a burn {generally classified as a superficial or first-degree burn}, and should be treated as such.

    If the area has fluid filled blister, seek medical aid. Never apply heat to a burn. Use cool water, and lotions developed for treating burns. Never use salves or ointments that would trap the heat in.

  8. Aug 9, 2010 #7
    Thanks, hypatia. When I first heard that running warm or hot water over your skin to open the pores to let more heat out, I had serious doubts. Hot water might open the pores but it still adds a lot of heat to the system, so any benifits are immediately countered. Most of what I've read and the help that I've gotten from the people on this forum have put that myth to rest. Thanks again.
  9. Aug 12, 2010 #8
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  10. Aug 12, 2010 #9
    Does the Physics Forums edit posts? A couple of comments were deleted from this one, including my own. I don't like negative back-and-forths, but I also respect freedom of speech. Can someone tell me what happened to those posts? I have backups if anybody wants to see what I mean.
  11. Aug 13, 2010 #10


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