Whether you neglected to put on
sunscreen, forgot to reapply it, or simply missed a spot, it’s not uncommon to
experience sunburn. For many of us, the pain and discomfort that comes with a
sunburn is a reminder of just how important it is to protect our skin from the
Sunburn symptoms include:
is hot to the touch
or red skin in exposed areas
sunburn can also cause headache, fever and nausea, and there is an associated
risk of dehydration.
These symptoms usually appear a few
hours after you’ve been overexposed to the sun, however, can get worse over the
next day or so.
Here’s how to take care of your
skin after you’ve been sunburnt:
baths and showers
The cool water from a bath or
shower can help to reduce the swelling from your sunburn and soothe the burning
sensation. When you’re in the water, avoid harsh soaps, scrubs or loofahs.
Once you’re out of the water, be
gentle with the skin to prevent further irritation. Dry yourself by gently
patting the skin with a towel as opposed to rubbing. Once you’re dry, be sure
to apply a gentle moisturizer to help replenish the moisture in the skin and
prevent itching and dryness.
Use a cold
Using a cold compress can also help
to reduce swelling and soothe the burn. Don’t apply ice directly to the skin as
this can be painful. Instead, fill a clean sealable bag with ice and cover it
with a cloth before applying to the skin. A cold, damp washcloth can also help.
Use the compress for as long as
necessary to relieve your pain and swelling. The longer you can keep the cold
up, the less severe the sunburn will be.
cooling gel or cream to the area
Not only can a spray, cream or gel (such as aloe vera) provide relief from pain and itching when
applied directly to the skin, but it can also help to cool the sunburn.
In fact, one study
found that the use of aloe vera reduced healing time and may be effective in
healing first- and second-degree burns, including mild to moderate sunburn.
This may be in part due to the fact that aloe vera contains a compound that has been found to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent.
Capital Chemist stocks a range of
after sun products that can help to relieve the pain, discomfort and burning of
the skin after sunburn and help to add extra moisture back into the skin. Speak
to your local pharmacist to find which one is right for you.
It’s common to want to relieve the
itching sensation by scratching at your skin. However, doing so will only cause
further damage to the skin.
Sunburnt skin may be especially
tender and is sensitive to irritation, so keep your fingernails away and apply
a soothing cream or gel instead.
For especially a painful sunburn,
you may need more than just topical relief.
Pain and fever relieving medicines
such as oral paracetamol can help to deal with the pain and discomfort.
If you’ve been burnt and your skin
is now peeling, it’s especially important to protect this red, ‘new’ skin from
further sun exposure, as it is exceptionally prone to sunburn.
Even if you’re not peeling, you
should protect your sunburn from further damage by the sun by avoiding
exposure, seeking shade when outside, applying sunscreen, wearing clothing that
covers the sunburnt areas and wearing a hat and sunglasses.
Overexposure to the sun doesn’t
just harm the skin, but it can also be extremely dehydrating. Making sure that
you rehydrate by drinking plenty of water or electrolyte drinks might not necessarily directly help your skin, but it will make
you feel a lot better if you’re dehydrated.
Keep an eye
out for other symptoms
Excessive exposure to UV rays can
also cause conditions like sunstroke, and severe sunburn may require further
medical attention. See a doctor if:
sunburn gets worse or bleeds
dizzy or nauseous
Overexposure to the sun puts you at
a greater risk of developing skin cancer. Be on the lookout for symptoms including:
small lumps on the skin
scaly, red dry patches of skin that can look like ulcers and bleed
on the skin that are crusty and don’t heal
Speak to your doctor if you notice
any of the above signs, or are concerned about any changes in your skin
following sun exposure.
sunburn in the future
Sunburn isn’t just unpleasant, but
it’s also damaging to the skin. Remember to practice sun safety in the future
sunscreen before you go outside
you’re applying enough sunscreen (at least a tablespoon for each limb, and the front and back of
your body, and at least half a teaspoon for your face, neck and ears)
sunscreen every two hours (or more if you’re sweating or swimming)
your sunscreen is 50 , that it’s in date and hasn’t been sitting in a hot car
glove compartment since last summer!
shade when outside in the sun
clothes that protect your skin