A sunburn causes damage to the skin akin to that of a burn by fire. The skin is damaged at a cellular level and will likely blister, itch, peel, burn and hurt as new skin takes its place. You can help prevent infection by applying silver sulfadiazine to your burn.
How Silver Sulfadiazine Works
Silver sulfadine is itself a compound derived from sulfa. It is typically only 1% of the creams it's present in and is not very water-soluble. The compound can help destroy and prevent the growth of bacteria and yeast on skin, which leaves the skin less prone to infection. A lesser risk of infection allows the skin to heal more fully.
How to Use Silver Sulfadiazine
Apply silver sulfadiazine to your sunburn as your physician or dermatologist instructs. You will most likely be asked to apply the cream once to twice per day.
Before each application, make sure the skin is clean. Wash the skin with unscented soap and dab at the skin with a washcloth. Dry the skin completely with a towel, making sure to dab and not rub the skin, so that you won't irritate the sunburn.
Wear a sterile glove and apply a thin layer of cream over the infected skin, gently massaging the cream into the skin. The cream should not be more than about 1/16th of an inch above the skin. Do not cover with a bandage, but you may be able to cover the area with a thin layer of gauze if your doctor says it's all right.
In the United States, you can only get silver sulfadiazine via prescription. Your dermatologist or physician may not actually recommend the cream for a sunburn because there are faster-working compounds available.