Ways to Soothe Sunburn


As most of us basked in the hot sunny weather that hit our shores over the weekend, let’s be honest, how many of us remembered to apply sun screen? The Met Office has issued a Level Three Heatwave warning which will remain in place until Thursday this week as UK temperatures will remain high.

We don’t need to be reminded to apply sun screen but if you forgot over the weekend and you’re suffering now, here are 10 tips to mitigate the symptoms of sunburn:

  1. Drink

Treat you sunburn like a hangover and drink more – no not alcohol, water.  Bad sunburns cause a process called vasodilation, where your blood vessels dilate and you lose water from your skin very quickly which can lead to dehydration, fatigue and even heat stroke if not treated.  Rehydrate your body with water. I personally like coconut water but any water with added electrolytes are effective in preventing dehydration.

  1. Cool down

Staying on the theme of water, jump under a cool shower or sit in a cool tub but resist the “Lush” scented bath bombs as the perfume may aggravate the already delicate skin.  Instead use an unscented oatmeal or soy-based soap instead.  The cool water will soothe the skin and reduce any inflammation or swelling.

  1. ‘ello Vera

Aloe vera is an herbal remedy that has been used for thousands of years for a variety of conditions, from skin problems to constipation to arthritis.  If you have an Aloe plant, squeeze the juice straight from it and apply to affected skin, alternatively buy Aloe gel from a chemist or health store.  The Aloe acts as a cooling agent and anti-inflammatory.

  1. Lube it up

Slather on lotion sparingly, as it can help seal the top layer of broken skin and protect from infections and irritation until the skin repairs itself.  Reach for something that is both moisturising and hydrating so that it helps trap moisture in the skin.  Ingredients such as ceramides, glycerine, soy, or oatmeal are particularly soothing.  Creams containing Vitamin C or E can also help tame inflammation in the skin.  But avoid petroleum based creams as those will trap heat in your skin.

  1. Green Tea

As well as burning your skin, ultraviolet rays from the sun can also release harmful molecules called free radicals into the skin which can damage cells.  Green tea contains high levels of antioxidants called catechins which researchers have found provide some protection against inflammation from the sun’s rays.  As well as drinking Green Tea, allow some to cool and soak a cloth in it to use as cold compress against affected skin to target these free radicals and alleviate sun damage to skin.

  1. Hc45

Hydrocortisone cream contains the active ingredient hydrocortisone acetate, which is a type of medicine called a topical corticosteroid.  Hydrocortisone cream 1% can be purchased over the counter and used for a day or two on small areas which are itchy but not recommended for children under 10 years old unless issued by a GP. It works by acting inside the cells to decrease the release of inflammatory substances which reduces swelling, redness, and itching.

  1. Pop a Pill

If you don’t have any underlying medical conditions such as a stomach ulcer, asthma or take other medication, take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and speed up recovery.  The broken skin will start to mend as soon as swelling subsides.

  1. Don’t touch

Avoid picking or peeling burned skin and don’t pop blisters to avoid scarring.  Blister bubbles form from the epidermis – the uppermost layer of skin to protect and cushion the layers below.  This stops further damage and gives the tissue time to heal.  Keep blisters clean and dry and cover with gauze or bandage during the day – can remove during the night to allow the skin to breathe.

  1. Birthday suit

A bad sunburn is one of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world, worse than brushing against poison ivy.  Adequate sleep is essential to help your body repair and rejuvenate itself but easier said than done when your body is burning like a furnace.  Simply go to bed naked to avoid clothing irritating or exacerbating painful sunburn.

  1. Don’t get burned twice

Avoid further damage to sunburned skin with continued exposure to the sun without protection. Get into the habit of wearing sun screen daily, especially through the rest of the summer.  Look for one that is SPF 30 to 50 which guards against both burn-causing UVB rays and wrinkle and cancer-causing UVA rays and is water-resistant for water activity.

Enjoy the rest of our glorious British summer!