BRITS have sweltered in record-breaking temperatures this week as an African heatwave smothered the country.
While many will have headed outside to make the most of the sunshine, there will undoubtedly be some who forgot to slap on the sun cream.
Unfortunately, the consequences of forgoing protection from the sun’s harmful rays can be pretty nasty.
From painful, red skin to weeping blisters, sun burn can not only be sore but experts warn it can have long-lasting damage.
Experts warn that sitting out in the sun without the appropriate protection could not only cause life-long damage, but could also double the risk of skin cancer.
Dermatologist Dr Whitney Bowe said that just one bad sunburn can double your risk of melanoma later in life.
Instead of taking the risk, is best to slap on the sunscreen at your earliest convenience before heading out in the sun.
A spokesperson from the British Association of Dermatologists told The Sun: “Prevention is always better than a cure when it comes to sunburn, as the ‘cure’ will only do so much, and the damage to the skin can’t be reversed.
“When it comes to protecting yourself we recommend staying in the shade between 11am-3pm, applying sunscreen with an SPF 30 and good UVA protection, and using protective clothing such as a hat, t-shirt, and sunglasses.
Prevention is always better than a cure when it comes to sunburn, as the ‘cure’ will only do so much, and the damage to the skin can’t be reversed
British Association of Dermatologists
“Cases of severe sunburn, particularly in young children, should be seen by a doctor.
“If you suffer severe blistering then you should get help immediately, which means a trip to your local A&E.”
But if that’s all a little too late and you were caught out by the blistering sunshine then you may be feeling the repercussions today.
Sunburn can be treated at home and usually gets better within seven days.
Here are 7 tips to help you ease the agony and what NOT to do with torched skin…
1. Don’t pop blisters
If you’re so badly sunburned that you’ve blistered then you’ve probably suffered a second-degree burn.
As tempting as it can be, these small pockets of fluid shouldn’t be popped.
Doing so can make the situation a whole lot worse and could lead to infection.
Blisters should heal on their own within a week but in severe cases you may need to see a GP.
They might need to burst a large or painful blister with a sterilised needle to drain out the fluid, or if it’s infected they can prescribe antibiotics.
People are more susceptible to blisters from the sun if the skin has previously burned – especially in the last year, according to the NHS.
It’s important to keep the area covered with cotton clothing and wear total sun block, i.e. one with a high protection factor.
The area can be exposed to sunshine again around 3 years after the injury, but it’s still very important to apply a high-factor sun cream (SPF 25 or above) and stay out of the midday sun.
2. Never put ice on sunburn
You should never hold ice directly to your skin as that can cause pain and damage.
Wrap it in a towel or flannel first then apply that to your skin to take the heat out.
You may need to repeat the processes several times, depending on how bad the burn is.
Try a cold compress, cool shower or bath can all help soothe your skin.
3. Apply milk
A cold milk compress will also help ease your sunburn.
Milk contains vitamins A and D, amino acids, lactic acid, fats and whey and casein proteins.
It’s these ingredients that help the skin recover.
Vitamins help the skin to heal while the lactic acid encourages the skin to get rid of the dead cells, so your immune system doesn’t have to work so hard to repair it.
There will also be less inflammation if your immune system isn’t working as hard.
All you need to do is pour some milk in a bowl, pop in a flannel and leave it in the fridge to cool.
Once the milk has soaked into the cloth and they are both cold, take it out and press the flannel into your sunburnt skin.
4. Or aftersun lotions
There are plenty of aftersun lotions you can buy in your local pharmacy or supermarket designed to ease the burning and also help repair the damaged skin.
Pick one with aloe vera in it as the plant extract is known to help soothe burns.
Though these lotions or gels can help repair the skin after sun damage, they cannot repair the damage caused to your cells.
It is the damage to your cells that puts you at risk of skin cancer so make sure you are always using sunscreen.
5. Try tea
You don’t need to drink it but rather use a cold teabag or freshly brewed tea – allowed to cool obviously – on your skin.
Just let it absorb into the skin, and if necessary, reapply… just don’t wash it off.
It’s a good one to do before bed as it gives it time to work overnight and you can shower it off in the morning.
The tannic acid in black tea is thought to help draw heat out of the burn and restore the pH level to help it heal.
6. Don’t use petroleum jelly
The NHS advises that you don’t try to treat sunburn with petroleum jelly.
Due to its thickness, it locks in the heat from your skin that needs to escape and prevent it from healing.
It’s also a really bad idea if you plan on going back on in the sun as its reflective consistency acts in the same water does and draws more sun to your skin.
Baby oil can have a similar effect by stopping heat escaping and not letting the area cool down.
MORE ON SKIN CANCER
7. Drink more water
When you are sunburnt you also tend to be dehydrated.
So it’s really important to make sure you are drinking plenty of water to replace what you sweat out and also what you lose through evaporation from your skin.
Just think, if your skin is sore and dry from the sun then your body is too.
Plus, drinking cool water can help bring your body temperature down.
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