January 7, 2021

How To Treat Sunburn

Summer in Australia means more time outside and exposure to the sun’s harmful UV (ultraviolet rays). Australians are well aware of the increased cancer risks associated with repeated sun exposure, yet many don’t take the necessary precautions to protect their skin and prevent sunburns.

If you do get sunburnt, it’s important to start treating the burn right away and continue to monitor your skin’s progress during and after the healing process.

Here are some tips and advice on how you can treat your sunburn and alleviate the pain.

Cool Your Skin Down

Taking a cool shower, bath, or dip in a body of water can alleviate the pain associated with a severe sunburn and help cool the skin down. Be careful not to stay in the water too long, and avoid using harsh soaps. You can use a damp towel, cold compress to cool the skin further. Avoid placing ice directly onto your skin.


Help the skin stay hydrated by using a moisturizing cream containing soy or aloe vera. Be careful not to use any cream containing -caine such as lidocaine or benzocaine as these creams can irritate the skin and cause more pain.

Medications To Reduce Pain & Inflammation

You can use over the counter painkillers or anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling and relieve sunburn pain. Common brands such as ibuprofen,  aspirin, or cortisone cream are effective and widely available.

Keep Hydrated

Drinking lots of water is extra important immediately after a sunburn and while you heal. Sunburnt skin draws moisture to your skin, risking dehydration if not monitored.

Let Your Skin Blister

If your skin blisters, it means you have a serious sunburn. Do not pop them, as blisters protect your skin from infection and help it heal. If your blister pops, make sure to apply an antibacterial cream to prevent infection.

Seek Medical Attention If Necessary

Severe sunburns can be extremely dangerous. If you or someone you know has blisters over large parts of their bodies or is feeling ill following prolonged sun exposure, you should seek medical attention immediately.

If you are experiencing the following symptoms after a sunburn, seek medical attention immediately:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Chills
  • Rapid Pulse

Protect Yourself From The Sun

Preparation is the key to avoiding severe sunburns. Here are some key ways to protect yourself from the sun

  • Apply 30+ SPF sunscreen every 2 hours or after swimming
  • Wear a hat
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Seek out shade
  • Avoid certain medications that increase skin sensitivity
  • Stay hydrate

Check Your Skin Often & Get Yearly Skin Cancer Checks

You only need to get sunburnt 5 times to drastically increase your risk of melanoma and other types of skin cancers. If you’ve had a bad sunburn in your lifetime, you should be receiving regular skin checks with your annual medical checkup.

Monitoring your moles and birthmarks and having regular skin checks performed by a trained and experienced skin doctor gives you the best chance at early detection and prevention of multiple types of skin cancer.

If you have further questions or want to schedule your skin check, contact King Street Medical today.


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