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How To Treat Sunburn

© Rex Features

We all know the solution to sunburn is not to get it in the first place. Because in almost all instances, sunburn is avoidable. If we end up looking like a farmer’s prized tomato after a day outdoors, it’s because we underestimated the strength of the sun and thus, we didn’t prepare.

How to avoid sunburn? Prepare. Slather Factor 50. Wear layers. Find shade. We know the drill…

But what happens if we _do_ get burnt? It’s all very well our friends/mothers/lovers reminding us – so helpfully – they told us so, but does that make it go away? No.

In such instances, what we really need are practical pointers to help. So here at Grazia we have decided to provide them…

Before you read the below though, note these pointers are not supplied by medical professionals and you must seek medical advice immediately if you are concerned about your sunburn. Exposure to UV rays can lead to premature wrinkling, pre-cancerous spots and even skin cancer, making it very dangerous.

Like Baz Luhrmann advised back in 1999 – it’s guidance still relevant today – make sure you wear that sunscreen!

What to do if you have sunburn…

Cool the skin with a cold bath or shower

Immerse your skin in cold water – not ice cold mind, as that can damage the skin tissue – and that should help to soothe it if it’s burnt. Applying a cold, wet flannel to the area is also good idea – gently though, of course.

Get yourself some aloe vera

Aloe vera is a proven anti-inflammatory and can help soothe and moisturise your skin following harsh exposure to the sun. Aloe vera lotions are best applied once the skin has cooled.

Something to watch out for: allergies to aloe vera are common, so make sure your skin can take it before you slather it on. If needs be, put a drop on non-burnt skin first to test…

Make sure no pressure is applied to the burnt area

Your burn must be protected from friction and pressure so avoid tight clothing and carrying bags on your back or shoulders (if they are the affected areas). This advice applies to your feet too – if your tootsies have been damaged by the rays, steer clear of tight socks and shoes.

See a pharmacist about hydrocortisone cream

Hydrocortisone cream can help inflamed or irritated skin so it might be an idea to visit your local chemist to buy some over-the-counter.

Do not pop blisters or peel away your skin

This could lead to all-manner of other problems, such as the risk of infection and scaring. If you’re suffering enough from the burns, why make it worse for yourself?

If you’re in pain, take painkillers

Painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol may help to relieve some of the pain of sunburn. Make sure you follow the instructions on the box and be mindful not to give aspirin to children under 16.

Don’t go out sunbathing the next day

Ok, so we know this sounds obvious – like, REALLY OBVIOUS – but after a good night’s sleep and your sunburn has subsided a little – and you’re on hollliiiidaaaaay – a quick 5 minutes tanning can seem so very tempting…

DO NOT DO IT. Just don’t.

p.s Did you know UV rays can get through glass? Beware the car window...

Just to reiterate, if your sunburn is bad, seek medical advice

If you find you are burnt over a large area of skin which starts to blister or swell, and/or you get the chills and/or a high temperature, and/or dizziness, headaches and nausea (all symptoms of heat exhaustion) get yourself to the docs. Pronto.

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