UK heatwave – Heal your sunburn with 10 simple tips

IT’S heating up across the UK, with some parts expected to be as hot as Malibu this week.

With the weather getting warmer, most people will be opting for shorts and strappy tops – with skin that is usually hidden, being exposed to the elements.


During sunny weather – it’s key that you use protective lotions to stop your skin getting burntCredit: Getty – Contributor

Topping up your tan can be a great way to spend your day – but its vital that you apply sun cream in order to protect your skin against lasting damage.

Forgetting to wear lotion could leave you with nasty burns, which can be hot and painful.

Not only that but exposure to the sun could put you at risk of skin cancer.

Whether you didn’t apply enough, or you forgot completely, here’s 10 tips for soothing burned skin.

1. After sun lotion

There are plenty of after sun 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.

2. Cool it down

Some may advise you that a cold shower can offer some instant relief and reduce inflammation, however a cold shower could in fact damage your skin further by drying it out, Dr Ross Perry explained.

He said: “Instead, lightly dampen your skin with a soft flannel which will cool the burn without exposing it to too much water.

“Use a dabbing motion and be careful not to rub at the skin as this will disrupt your skin barrier further”.

3. Yoghurt

You could use yoghurt to ease sunburn, but not through eating it.

Apparently slapping some yoghurt on your burnt skin can provide some much needed relief.

It’s not entirely clear why that is, but it is likely down to the fact that it has a higher pH level, so it can be used to soothe heat.

4. Tea

Again, you don’t need to drink it but rather use a cold teabag or freshly brewed tea – allowed to cool obviously – on your skin.

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.

5. Drink up

Good hydration in and out is vital for sunburn recovery, Dr Perry said.

“Burns draw fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body which could leave you feeling dehydrated.

“It’s important to drink lots and lots of water and use a good hydrating SPF to avoid any further dehydration.”

6. 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.

Top tips for safe sun cream

Using expired sun tan lotion is one of five most common suncare mistakes. Here one expert gives his tips of applying lotion

Pharmacist Scott McDougall, founder of the Independent Pharmacy said first up you should always check the lotion for an expiry date.

He said another mistake people make, is choosing an SPF that is too low. He said your body will still absorb vitamin D through the sun cream so choose factor 50 where possible.

Not applying enough cream is another issue, he said. He recommended that you apply liberally and throughout the day, generally every two hours and after a swim.

Another issue, he said – is people being too late when it comes to applying cream. You should apply lotion before you leave the house, not as your skin is burning, Scott said.

7. Creams

Gentle moisturisers are the key to sunburn recovery, Dr Perry said.

“While your skin is still damp (this will prevent the minerals from settling on the skin), apply generous amounts of ceramide-enriched moisturiser which locks in hydration.

“Be sure to avoid petroleum or any oil-based ointments which may trap the heat and make the burn worse.”

8. Painkillers

According to Dr Perry, using painkillers can actually make sunburn go away faster.

He said: “As long as you take some in the first few hours of getting your sunburn, taking a couple of ibuprofen could help reduce swelling and decrease discomfort.”

9. Cucumber

You’ve seen it used to keep eyes cool during facials, so why not use it on your sunburn.

It is believed cucumbers have natural antioxidant properties to cool burns down.

You can either slice it and apply it directly to your skin or mash it up and use it like a cream.

While there is no scientific evidence to suggest it works, a cucumber will certainly feel nice and cool.

10. And what to avoid

While baby oil is great for a range of conditions, it should not be used to treat sunburn.
This is because oily or greasy products stop heat escaping and can make a burn worse by not letting the area cool down.

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