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How to treat sunburn

how to treat sunburn

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Causes of sunburn

Sunburn is the result of skin damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays (UV). Too much exposure to UV rays can make your skin painful and red which later leads to peeling and even blistering. Your skin type and how long you have been in the UV rays will depend on the severity of the sunburn.Knowing how to treat sunburn is the key to recovery.

The most common symptoms of sunburn are red sore and blistering skin, these may not show immediately and can occur up to 5 hours later. UV light comes from various sources like:

(1) Sunlight

(2) Tanning beds

(3) Physiotherapy lamp – used to treat conditions like jaundice

When the sun is at its most intense between 11am and 3pm, is when sunburn occurs but you can get sunburn before and after this period of time if you are exposed to the UV rays. Be aware that cloudy skies and cool breezes won’t protect you from the UV rays.

how to treat sunburn

Who is at risk?

Absolutely everyone is at risk if they are exposed to UV rays. If you have fair skin or red hair then you are at a higher risk of getting sunburnt due to low levels of melanin. Melanin is a pigment in your skin that absorbs the UV light and turns your skin darker, this is a sign of UV damage. Babies and children are at a higher risk from sunburn.


You should aim to cool the skin and relieve any pain or symptoms, ideally moisturisers (especially those containing Aloe Vera), cool flannels will help you ease symptoms. If your sunburn is severe you may need medical treatment, so speak to your GP or pharmacist if you feel faint, have severe blistering or suffering dehydration.

Longer lasting effect of sunburn

If you are suffering from a mild form of sunburn it usually starts to get better between 4 and 7 days after you’ve been exposed to the UV rays. Damage from sunburn can have long lasting effects especially if you have frequent exposure to UV rays over a long period of time. Skin cancer and premature ageing are attributed to this.


There are some steps to follow that will reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.

(1) Be sure to use sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 and above, you can use an almost complete block for children and babies

(2) Avoid strong sunlight and cover up with clothes and with a sun hat

(3) Apply a really generous amount of sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours, make sure you reapply after swimming

Always keep babies and children out of direct sunlight, you can use umbrellas and sun hats and make sure to keep them in the shade especially during the hottest part of the day.



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