Avoiding and treating sunburn
As summer holiday season kicks off, and many of us start thinking about packing for a trip abroad, we provide some useful advice about sunburn. Not only is sunburn extremely painful, but it can also cause long-term damage to the skin that can later lead to cancer. It’s well worth taking the time to make sure that you’re protected.
Here are our top tips…
Water doesn’t protect you from the sun
There is a reason why suncreams advertise themselves as being water-resistant. Just because you are spending the day in the water does not mean you can’t burn. You will need to apply suncream before and after swimming. It’s only water-resistant, not waterproof. You also need to reapply it regularly, every couple of hours or so.
Fact: if you don’t put cream on one particular area, it will burn
Areas that you’re likely to forget include feet (especially if you’re on a sandy beach), and ears (though you can get round this by wearing a hat with a brim). Make sure that you apply cream to areas that become exposed when you lie down to sunbathe.
Clothes will not always protect you
Thin white t-shirts may not have much protective power. If you’re relying on clothes, rather than sunscreen, make sure that they are sold as having high factor protection.
Be especially careful on your first few days
We’re so aware nowadays of the need to protect children’s delicate skin from the sun that you’ll slather your children in sunscreen. But don’t forget that you too need protection, especially if this is the first sun you’ve seen all year. Whenever you reapply their cream, do yours too.
Stay out of the sun at midday and through the early afternoon, when it is hottest.
You know it makes sense.
But what do you do if despite your best intentions, you have got sunburnt?
First of all, get out of the sun. Go indoors, or sit in the shade and put on a shirt. Cool your skin using cold water, because this takes away pain and itching. A cold shower is good, although the pressure may hurt if you are severely sunburnt. Use a water-based moisturiser or Vaseline to keep your skin moist. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, and you can also take painkillers if necessary. And stay out of the sun completely for a couple of days, to give your skin a chance to heal.
If you’ve really overdone it, and your skin is blistered, or you develop a temperature, dizziness, headaches or are feeling sick, you should consult a doctor, as you may have heat stroke, or need specialist treatment.