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Sunshine just about hanging on - Sunburn top tips and what to do

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Sunburn top tips and what to do

With our recent heatwave, some of you will have experienced the following: staying out in the sun all day, forgetting to reapply sunscreen and before you know it, developing a nasty sunburn. Although it may seem like just a temporary situation ie it looks bad, it hurts, it peels, it can also cause long-lasting damage to the skin, such as wrinkles or even skin cancer.

When you get sunburnt, it is important to help the skin repair itself as quickly as possible, so below are some tips on what to do. Remember sunburn is a burn, so it is damaged skin and needs to repair and it will always have a susceptibility to burning in the future.

  1. Get Out of The Sun
    This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s crucial and something people too often don’t do; especially when we get the rarity of a heatwave in Ireland, Irish people feel obliged to “get as much of the rare sight of sun as possible”. When you get sunburnt, some damage has already been done, so you don’t want to harm your skin any more. You should stay out of the sun until the burn fades completely.
  2. Assess the Damage
    Most sunburns are not severe enough to attend Accident and Emergency. Even if a couple of small blisters pop up, it’s usually safe to treat the burn at home. If you develop blisters on more than 20 percent of the body, you need to seek medical attention immediately, you should also head to the hospital if you feel nauseous, get intense chills or run a fever as this is a sign of sun-stroke and dehydraton.
  3. Take A Pain Reliever
    For sunburns that you can treat on your own, over-the-counter painkillers can take the edge off. If the burn’s not so bad (ie. mainly your skin just feels a little tender) taking an ibuprofen can help s it acts as an anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling and ease the pain. Bear in mind, those with certain medical conditions like asthma, stomach ulcers, kidney problems and heart problems need to take care with or avoid ibuprofen so always check with your pharmacist
  4. Take A Cool Bath
    It’s also important to cool the skin down gently, but skip the shower as the continual blast of water on scorched skin will not feel good. Also skip the soap, which will dry skin out even more. Instead, add a few scoops of baking soda to a bath. It has a cooling effect and helps your skin retain moisture.
  5. Use Aloe Vera Gel or Burn Gel
    If you are away from home and can’t catch a bath, smear on aloe vera gel as it is a cooling agent and an anti-inflammatory. Alternatively, apply burn gel or burn dressings to the affected area to sooth the area and protect it from infection. Our staff in Whelehans Pharmacies can advise further on options available.
  6. Drink Water
    Bad sunburn causes a process called vasodilation, where the blood vessels dilate and lose water from the skin very quickly, this can lead to dehydration, fatigue and even heat stroke if not treated.  Sipping water immediately and keep drinking it to be sure you stay hydrated.
  7. Don’t Touch the Blisters!
    Leave it alone. Picking or peeling burned skin or popping blisters can lead to permanent scarring
  8. Don’t Get Burned Twice!
    You should not forget how much damage sunburn causes. You should use your current misery as motivation to get in the habit of applying broad-spectrum sunblock every day, especially through the rest of the summer!


Thanks to Fleming Medical for the tips for this article


For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans Pharmacies, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore).


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