How to treat sunburn
Article date: 1 July 2014
Getting sunburnt can be easier than you think - especially on the rare occasions when the sun does present itself for extended periods of time in the UK.
However, prolonged exposure to its rays can be harmful in both the long and short term, with the risks of developing skin cancer regularly mentioned in the media and via health-related channels.
If you are unfortunate enough to spend too long in the sun or not use enough protection, it can be incredibly uncomfortable - not just for a few hours, but often for days or even a week afterwards.
That said, there are actions you can take to help relieve the pain you're likely to be feeling. Here are a few tips that may help.
The first thing you should do when you realise you've had too much sun is stop yourself from getting more!
While this may seem like an obvious thing to say, there might be the tendency to think that now you're burnt, you may as well stay out in the warmth and make the most of it.
This is ill-advised, as you are only exacerbating the problem and although your sunburn may just appear to be limited to a pink colouring of your skin for the time being, in a few hours the symptoms will worsen, so getting out of an environment where you are doing damage to yourself and beginning treatment as early as possible is the best approach.
Burns naturally draw fluid away from the body to the surface of the skin, so it is vital that you increase your water intake when you are sunburnt to ensure you do not become dehydrated.
You should keep this up for at least a couple of days to avoid worsening your condition.
While water is good to drink, you may also feel some relief by applying cool water to the areas of your body that have experienced sun damage. You could take a shower or - if that proves to be too painful - apply a wet flannel or similar cold compress to wherever hurts to bring the temperature down.
You will generally find the sunburnt parts of your body will feel tight and hot as time goes on. One way to counteract this is to apply moisturiser or aftersun cream.
Products that contain aloe vera will be especially effective for this purpose, while calamine lotion is good for occasions when the burning starts to irritate and itch.
Ibuprofen is generally good for bringing down temperatures, reducing inflammation and relieving pain, while paracetamol will also help to control any fever.
However, this might not be enough for severe cases of sunburn and in this instance you may need to seek out special advice from your pharmacist.
In extreme circumstances, you may be sent to a nearby accident and emergency department, although hopefully it will not get to this stage if you follow the first piece of advice about covering yourself up and starting treatment at the first sign of trouble!