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What to do if you get sunburn

Sunburn is an inflammation in response to damage to the outer layers of the skin from ultraviolet radiation. In other words, it is the redness that occurs after excessive exposure to sunlight or other types of ultraviolet light. A person with very fair skin can get sunburnt in less than 15 minutes of exposure to the sun at noon, while a person with darker skin can easily tolerate the same exposure for several hours, writes RBC.
What to do if you get sunburn

It is a mistake to believe that the sun is active only in clear weather. You can get burned on a cloudy day too. Up to 80% of UV rays penetrate clouds, so be careful even when the sun isn't shining.

To help the burn heal and soothe itchy skin, it is important to begin treatment as soon as you notice the first signs. The first thing you should do is get out of the sun preferably under a roof; then try to relieve the discomfort using the following recommendations:

To reduce pain, take frequent cool baths or showers.

As soon as you get out of the bath or shower, gently pat yourself dry, but leave some water on your skin. Then apply moisturizer, this will reduce dryness.

Use a moisturizer, lotion, or emulsion that contains aloe vera, soy, or oat milk. They will soothe tanned skin.

You can locally apply a cream or emulsion containing hydrocortisone (1%) to small but especially inflamed areas of the skin; they can be bought without a prescription.

Do not treat sunburn with products whose names end in “-caine” - such as benzocaine, lidocaine. They may irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.

If pain is severe, you can take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen.

In case of swelling, take an antihistamine and apply a gel with an antihistamine component to the skin.

Drink more water; this is very important because sunburn draws fluid to the surface of the skin and pulls it away from the rest of the body. Drinking more water helps prevent dehydration. 

If blisters appear on the skin, allow them to heal. If necessary, you can use special bands containing silicone or repairing agents (Peruvian balsam, dexpanthenol). However, do not try to open the blister yourself without the supervision of a doctor. Damage to the blister causes additional discomfort and risk of infection.

Be especially careful and try to protect tanned skin while it heals. Wear clothing that covers your body when you are outdoors; thick fabrics work best. To check the density, hold the fabric up to a bright light and look - you should not see any light.

Do not use soap or perfume. They will additionally dry out areas of tanned skin.

Another remedy for sunburn is as follows: add oatmeal to your bath. A suspension of colloidal oatmeal helps suppress inflammation and reduce itching. Simply grind oats or oatmeal in a blender. Pour the resulting oatmeal into your bath water and soak in cool water for 15–20 minutes. Afterwards, gently pat your skin dry with a clean towel, but do not rub to dry it as this may cause irritation.

Wrap an ice pack in a damp cloth and apply it to the burn. This will absorb some of the heat from your skin causing the blood vessel walls to contract and reducing swelling.

What not to do if you have sunburn

To avoid complications and not harm yourself even more, try to follow simple recommendations:

  • do not use petroleum jelly or products with the word “ointment” on tanned skin;
  • do not put ice or ice packs on tanned skin;
  • do not puncture any blisters yourself;
  • do not scratch or try to remove flaky skin;
  • do not wear tight clothing after being burned;
  • do not use soap and foaming body hygiene products - such products additionally dry out damaged skin.


Photos are from open sources.

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