Treating Sunburn: What to Do When It’s Bad

When it turns to summer and the sun starts coming out, it’s understandable that a lot of people get worked into a fervor and are so excited to see the light that they feel they just have to get outside in it.

It’s easy when this happens though to get so excited about the nice weather that you actually forget about the dangers inherent in the sun and about how easy it is to get burned. This is a serious matter as sun burn can cause many problems which include drying out your skin and increasing wrinkles and blemishes, as well as damaging your skin cells and increasing the risk of developing cancer. At the same time though burns simply hurt and are unpleasant and some are just as serious as burning your hand on a stove or something else.

So if you’ve got a little carried away with the summer fun and you find yourself as red as a lobster, what do you do to cool yourself off, to ease the pain and to prevent unnecessary damage? Here we will look at some measures you can take to ease off sun burn.

Get Shade

The first thing to do is to seek refuge as soon as you notice the burns beginning. This will limit the damage and ensure that you don’t burn further. Make sure to regularly look at your skin and to try pressing on it so that you are alerted as soon as burning has begun.

Cool Off

Next you need to cool your burns off and you can do this in a number of ways. An ice pack, some luke warm water in a shower, or something similar will help to cool the burn down and take away some of the pain. Some people choose to use home remedies for this such as taking a bath with oats in it. This will also reduce the ‘tight’ feeling that sun burn creates.


Now it’s important to rehydrate both your skin and your body – being in the sun for extended periods can dehydrate you and this can be dangerous in itself. Likewise the drying out of the skin can do further damage. Creams that are applied directly to the skin are called emollients and you can use creams such as aftersun creams which both cool and moisturise. Some also contain aloe vera which can soothe skin, calamine lotion which can present itching and vitamin D and other nutrients which encourage healing.

Hydrocortisone Cream

Hydrocortisone cream is a topical cream which is used to reduce inflammation and for its pain killing effects. It is important though not to use these creams on children less than two years old and to avoid applying it directly to the face, genitals or any broken skin.


If you are still in a lot of pain, then you can also use painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol. Ibuprofen is also anti-inflammatory.

Dress Lightly

You will now find that your skin hurts when it comes into contact with anything and the lightest touch can be quite painful. The solution is to wear loosely fitted clothes made from cotton and linen which will also give your skin space to breath.

Avoid the Sun

Of course you now should avoid direct exposure to the sun so that you give yourself time to heal. Make sure to stick to the shade and to cover up until your pain and the redness has subsided.

Note: In cases of very severe sun burn there are several courses of action such as special burn creams and dressing which can be obtained from a GP. In some cases this can even warrant a trip to the A&E department, and this is particularly the case if a young child has developed a burn. Look out for blistering, fever and other complications.

Once you have allowed your sun burn to subside this will hopefully have encouraged you to avoid exposing yourself too much to the direct sun in future. Thus in future it is pertinent to look for preventions rather than cures – to stay out of direct sunlight, to wear lots of layers and to make sure to sun lotion which will protect you from the damaging UV rays of the sun.

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