Sunburn, Sunscreen, and Sun safety
Sunburn is skin damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays.
The skin becomes red, warm, sore and tender. It may start to flake and peel after a few days, and will usually fully heal within 7 days.
Sunburn is usually mild and short-lived, but it's important to try to avoid it because it can increase your risk of developing skin problems in later life, such as ageing (wrinkling) and skin cancer.
It can be easy to underestimate the strength of the sun when you're outside. The wind and getting wet, such as going in and out of the sea, may cool your skin, so you don't realise you're getting burnt.
You should always be aware of the risk of sunburn if you're outside in strong sunshine, and look out for your skin getting hot.
Remember you don't always need to visit a GP for sunburn - a Pharmacist can offer over-the-counter treatments and free advice for mild sunburn (such as aftersun products, calamine lotion, and painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to help ease the pain/reduce inflammation caused by sunburn). However do seek medical help if you feel unwell or the skin swells badly or blisters. Stay out of the sun until all signs of redness have gone.
Sun safety tips
Spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest. In the UK, this is between 11am and 3pm from March to October.
Make sure you:
- spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm
- make sure you never burn
- cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses
- take extra care with children
- use at least factor 15 sunscreen
Advice for adults and children on sunscreen and sun safety in the UK and abroad is available on the NHS Choices website.
Top ways for staying safe when the heat arrives
For more information directly related to sunburn...
Visit the Sunburn page on NHS Choices website for more information on:
- What to do if you're sunburnt
- When to get medical advice
- Who's at risk of sunburn?
- Dangers of UV rays
- Preventing sunburn
- Advice for babies and children