Life

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Feeling the burn? Six ways to soothe your sunburn

A rather sunburned back. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
A rather sunburned back. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
It’s very easy to avoid sunburn. Sunscreen is cheap and readily available.
Very sunburned feet
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

We've all heard the warnings. Slip, slap, slop, they say with a catchy ring in Australia.

Or be sunsmart, the Irish Cancer Society says here: Seek shade, cover up, wear sunglasses and sunscreen, and check the UV index.

But in a sudden sunburst or heatwave, even the most prudent among us, can get burned.

With this in mind, here are simple and effective ways to soothe that sunburn.

1. Apply a burn cream, aloe vera or yogurt to sedate and cool a minor burn. Aloe vera or calamine lotion will also soothe burned skin. Don't use oily creams as they will simply trap heat in and add to the discomfort. 

2. Frequent cool baths or showers can alleviate the pain of sunburn. One handy trick: Generously sprinkle baking soda into tepid bathwater. Enjoy the soak. Afterwards, instead of drying yourself with a towel, let the solution dry on your skin. It can help soothe the pain.

3. Fluids can be lost through badly burnt skin, so drink plenty of water.

4. Emollients with menthol are soothing to sunburned skin, some skin experts say. And if a particular area is especially uncomfortable, hydrocortisone cream can help.

5. If it’s very painful, painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, will ease the pain of sunburn by helping to reduce inflammation.

6. If it is a significant burn, you feel unwell or the skin swells badly or blisters, seek medical help. Stay out of the sun until all signs of redness have gone.

7. Going forward, be sure to apply 25ml of SPF per limb every two hours to maximise protection from sun damage. It's not just the factor on the bottle that counts but the way you apply, the amount and how often that makes all the difference.

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