The Best Ways To Treat Sunburn

Honestly, we’re as surprised as you are about this heatwave we’re experiencing in the UK. Pleasantly surprised obviously but there’s just one thing we can’t get off our minds. Not to sound like a nag – our health is of utmost importance after all – but in among all that sun-soaked fun, we’ve all got to pay extra attention to looking after our skin and avoiding sunburn at all costs.

Sunburn occurs as a result of damage from ultraviolet rays. The two main types of these ultraviolet rays are UVA and UVB. UVA rays are responsible for causing ageing of the skin through their penetration of the deep layers of the skin furthermore causing damage to the dermis of the skin. UVB rays cause a different kind of damage in that they are absorbed by the top layers of your skin known as the epidermis. It’s these rays that cause tanning but without taking the right precautions with SPF can also lead to burning. The effects of both UVA and UVB on your skin is that they both increase your risk of developing skin cancer with eight of our 10 skin cancers being linked to excessive sun exposure. 

Upon burning your skin you’ll notice a change in colour as skin goes red, hot, likely painful and in the following days begins to peel. This is your warning sign that your skin has been damaged.

So what next?

The first step is to cool the skin as much as possible. This should help ease irritation and calm the heat coming from the burn. Different methods of this suit everybody differently but it’s recommended to try a cold shower and apply aftersun or moisturiser in order to reduce dryness of the skin and the peeling that follows. Keeping aftersun in the fridge can also help in both cooling down the sunburn and increasing moisture of the burnt area. For those with sensitive skin, aloe vera based products (or straight from the plant) allows for a gentler and more natural approach to skin healing as it reduces irritation through natural ingredients. Coconut oil does the same thanks to its high concentration of saturated fats and natural ability to moisturise. 

It seems obvious but upon noticing your sunburn, get out of the sun immediately. Some people feel that since they’re already burnt, what’s the difference if they stay in the sun a little longer? The difference is that the mild sunburn you’ve endured could easily become a blistering, aggressive, second-degree burn that requires medical attention. 

Some sunburn can be severe enough to require medical attention. If you notice blistering or are in severe pain, speak to a medical professional immediately for the best case of action to address the damage to your skin. 

Top Tips For Treating Sunburn

Stay hydrated. Your body loses fluids when you’re sunburned. Keep drinking that water.

Re-apply sunscreen every two hours particularly if you’re in the water.

Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before exposure to the sun to allow the sunscreen to start working its magic before you’re soaking up those rays. 

Don’t pick. If your skin starts to peel as a result of sunscreen, although irritating (and a bit gross) don’t pick or peel it further. This will cause scars, making the damage more permanently visible. 

Apply SPF lip balm when applying the rest of your SPF. Lips burn faster than the rest of your skin. 

All in all, remember that prevention is always better than cure and sunburn is so easily avoided. Always use at least SPF 30 with SPF 50 recommended for sensitive areas such as your face and any moles on your body. For further information on everything you need to know about SPF, check out our article here.

Niamh Crawford-Walker

Niamh is a full time fashion and features writer at The Style Edit. Her work has previously appeared in IMAGE magazine, image.ie and Emirates Woman.

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