Sunburn

Sunburn is red, hot and sore skin caused by too much sun. It may flake and peel after a few days. You can treat it yourself. It usually gets better within 7 days.


How to ease sunburn yourself

Do

  • get out of the sun as soon as possible
  • cool your skin with a cool shower, bath or damp towel (take care not to let a baby or young child get too cold)
  • apply aftersun cream or spray, like aloe vera
  • drink plenty of water to cool down and prevent dehydration
  • take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for any pain
  • cover sunburnt skin from direct sunlight until skin has fully healed

Don't

  • do not use petroleum jelly on sunburnt skin
  • do not put ice or ice packs on sunburnt skin
  • do not pop any blisters
  • do not scratch or try to remove peeling skin
  • do not wear tight-fitting clothes over sunburnt skin

You can ask a pharmacist:

  • about the best sunburn treatments
  • if you need to see a GP

Find a pharmacy

See a GP urgently or call NHS 111 if:

  • your skin is blistered or swollen
  • your temperature is very high, or you feel hot and shivery
  • you feel very tired, dizzy and sick
  • you have a headache and muscle cramps
  • your baby or young child has sunburn

Severe sunburn can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be very serious.

Getting sunburnt can increase your chance of getting skin cancer.

Find out how to protect your skin from the sun and avoid sunburn

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