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How to Treat Sunburn

Sunburn isn’t just a problem for overseas holidaymakers.The sun can catch you out when you’re in the garden at home, out walking or climbing or having a day at the beach. It doesn’t have to be hot.

How you treat sunburn depends on how severe it is.  Generally the procedure is to hydrate, moisturise and take painkillers.

Often sunburn is not immediately apparent but develops a few hours later.  The sunburnt area will get progressively warmer, redder and the skin may become painful.  Whether it’s mild or severe staying out of the sun is essential.  You should also avoid alcohol.

Sunburn may leave you feeling dehydrated.  Drink plenty of water regardless of whether you’re thirsty or not.  This helps to cool your body down.  As for the sunburn itself, have a cool shower or bath.  Alternatively sponge the affected area or a soak a flannel in cold water and apply it to the sunburn.

For mild sunburn an after sun cream or moisturiser or gel containing aloe vera can help soothe the skin.  If you don’t have an after sun product ask a local pharmacy for a recommendation.  Likewise calamine location can help reduce itchiness.

Painkillers can also make you more comfortable.  Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as Ibuprofen can reduce pain and help lower temperature.  Paracetamol can also help reduce pain and fevers.  You should take account of any allergies.

More severe sunburn symptoms such as skin blistering badly, or becomes cracked and bleeding should be seen by a GP who may recommend an additional treatment such as paraffin gauze dressings.  If these are accompanied by other signs of severe sunburn including an upset stomach, fever and chills, headaches and fainting, a trip to A & E is necessary.  This is perhaps more common than you might think.

Thankfully, most people don’t need hospital treatment.