Sunburn - NHS

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Sunburn

Sunburn is red, hot and sore skin caused by too much sun. It may flake and peel after a few days. You can treat it yourself. It usually gets better within 7 days.

How to ease sunburn yourself

Do

  • get out of the sun as soon as possible

  • cool your skin with a cool shower, bath or damp towel (take care not to let a baby or young child get too cold)

  • apply aftersun cream or spray, like aloe vera

  • drink plenty of water to cool down and prevent dehydration

  • take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for any pain

  • cover sunburnt skin from direct sunlight until skin has fully healed

Don’t

  • do not use petroleum jelly on sunburnt skin

  • do not put ice or ice packs on sunburnt skin

  • do not pop any blisters

  • do not scratch or try to remove peeling skin

  • do not wear tight-fitting clothes over sunburnt skin

You can ask a pharmacist:

  • about the best sunburn treatments
  • if you need to see a GP

Non-urgent advice: See a GP urgently or call NHS 111 if:

  • your skin is blistered or swollen
  • your temperature is very high, or you feel hot and shivery
  • you feel very tired, dizzy and sick
  • you have a headache and muscle cramps
  • your baby or young child has sunburn

Severe sunburn can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be very serious.

Information:

Getting sunburnt can increase your chance of getting skin cancer.

Find out how to protect your skin from the sun and avoid sunburn

Page last reviewed: 18 January 2019
Next review due: 18 January 2022