We all know what we should be doing when the temperature rises: slather on sunscreen, wear a hat, and not spend too much time in the sun.
However, sometimes things don’t quite go to plan – you might have forgotten to reapply your sunblock every few hours, or perhaps you fell asleep while sunbathing.
Ireland has been experiencing a heatwave over the past week so some of us might have an unwanted visitor: sunburn.
While most of us will just have to wait until the sunburn fades, always seek medical attention if your burn is extreme and you experience a high temperature, blistered skin or symptoms of heat exhaustion – including dizziness and headaches.
Mild sunburn can be both painful and embarrassing, but there are some things you can do to help soothe it…
1. Get out of the sun immediately – and stay out of it
This is a fairly obvious one, but worth noting – if you feel your skin starting to prickle and become tender, head for the shade as quickly as possible. And if it’s the later that day or the next, and you’re suffering with burn, don’t head back out into the sunshine. Give your skin a break.
2. Cool down your skin
There’s truly nothing worse than scorched skin that makes it impossible to sit, sleep or really do anything. Cooling down your skin won’t make the burn magically disappear, but it can at least give you a bit of relief – so try sponging your skin with cold water, applying an icy compress to the worst areas, or even having a cool bath or shower to help minimise the sting.
3. Drink plenty of water
If you’re suffering from sunburn, you’ve likely spent too long in the sun, risking a certain amount of dehydration in the process. Drinking lots of water won’t necessarily ease your sore skin, but it could help prevent other nasty symptoms of heat exhaustion, including headaches and dizziness.
4. Apply some aloe vera
Applying aloe vera to sunburnt skin can help relieve some of the irritation. If you have an aloe vera plant you can extract some of the gel found inside the leaves – if not, look for products with a high percentage of aloe.
5. Take painkillers if you need them
If you’re really struggling with the pain of sunburn, over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen might make things a little less uncomfortable.
As part of the SunSmart campaign the HSE's National Cancer Control Programme, in collaboration with Healthy Ireland and cross-sectoral partners are working together to support people to protect their skin from the sun. Click here for more info.