We’re realists here at Coach. We know that we can inform you of the finer points of using sunscreen and which are the best sun creams until we’re red in the face, but at some point you – and, if we’re honest, we – will take our eye off the big blazing fireball in the sky and end up with red faces.
In the UK, the reason is often utter disbelief that the sun will be hot enough to actually burn us. Even in the midst of a savage summer heatwave, Brits take a cavalier attitude towards protecting their skin. Research from Bupa Health Clinics found that 73% of UK adults don’t apply sunscreen in the UK, and 30% say they are less careful about applying sun cream at home than they are when on holiday abroad.
If you are someone who has succumbed to sunburn, then after scolding yourself for being so careless it’s time to consider some treatment options. We asked dermatologist Dr Stephanie Munn from Bupa Health Clinics for her top tips for soothing sunburn. Take it away, Dr Munn.
Stock up on aloe vera
This is a great natural remedy for sunburn. Aloe contains enzymes that reduce inflammation and increase blood flow to damaged tissues, and it also contains antibacterial compounds which assist in avoiding infection.
Using aloe vera to treat sunburn also helps new skin cells form, which encourages the healing process. You can find aloe vera gel in most pharmacies and supermarkets.
Apply a cold compress
Anyone who has suffered sunburn will know your skin can feel hot to touch. To cool it down, place a cold compress, or a damp towel or flannel, on the affected area for 15 minutes. Repeat this throughout the day or when you feel the skin is getting too hot.
By doing this you’ll be soothing the skin and taking some of the heat out of it. When you get home take a cool bath or shower to help relieve the soreness, but remember to pat your skin dry afterwards – don’t make the mistake of rubbing burned skin with a rough towel.
Manage any blisters
Severe sunburn can result in blisters. It’s an indication that you have a second degree burn which is really damaging to the skin. These types of burns can take up to three weeks to heal – the worse the burn, the longer the healing process will take.
Soak the burned area in cool water for a few minutes and take painkillers if you need some relief. If your blisters are small just leave them to heal, but if they are causing you problems it’s best to go to A&E to get them treated.
Keep covered up until the burn has fully healed. Wear clothes that cover the skin effectively and make sure the sun’s rays can’t get through the material. Repeat sunburn can put you at a substantial risk of skin cancer and premature skin ageing.
If you have other symptoms, seek help
If your sunburn causes you to feel unwell with symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, dehydration or vomiting, then seek medical help because you could have heatstroke. If you have concerns about your sunburn then it might also help to visit a dermatologist. It’s an especially good idea to get your moles checked if you’ve been sunburned or if you notice a change in them.