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First Aid Sunburn

Sunburn is a result of too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. While you can see the sunlight and feel the heat, you cannot feel the radiation. This means that people are often burnt without realising it.
 
Signs of sunburn are:
  • Red skin
  • Swollen areas
  • Skin painful to touch
  • Blistered areas
  • Chills, fever, nausea and vomiting can occur if the sunburn covers a lot of your body and is severe.
Sunburn should not be taken lightly. It is radiation burn to the skin and any type of sunburn (whether mild or severe) can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage that can result in skin cancer.
Sunburn should not be taken lightly. It is radiation burn to the skin and any type of sunburn (whether mild or severe) can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage that can result in skin cancer.
 
There are different degrees of sunburn:
 
  • First-degree — Mild sunburn that reddens and inflames the skin.
  • Second-degree — More serious reddening and water blisters.
  • Third-degree — This requires medical attention. Symptoms can include blistering, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or severe pain.
The amount of sun exposure required to cause sunburn varies from person to person but generally people with fairer skin burn more quickly. While you can’t cure sunburn, there are some things you can do to ease the pain if you have had too much sun.
 
You should:
 
  • Drink plenty of water — if you’ve been out in the sun, you’re probably dehydrated
  • Cool the affected areas with clean towels, cloths or gauze dipped in cool water — or take a cool bath or shower
  • Rest in a cool, quiet room
  • Take some painkillers if necessary
  • Ask your pharmacist about any products that may soothe the burn
  • Wear loose clothing that doesn’t aggravate your skin
  • Moisturise your skin – while this won’t prevent peeling, it will boost moisture levels in the layers of skin underneath the burn
  • Avoid prolonged periods in the sun
  • When the skin has peeled off, apply antiseptic cream to the new skin to prevent infection
You should not:
 
  • Use soap on your skin as this may aggravate it
  • Apply butter to sunburnt skin
  • Pop blisters as this may lead to infection
  • Peel or pick at the skin — let it peel off of its own accord
  • Go in the sun until all signs of the sunburn have disappeared
If you have severe sunburn and experience blistering, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or severe pain, you should call a doctor immediately.
 
When it comes to sunburn, prevention really is better than cure! Be aware of how much time you spend in the sun and take measures to cover up if you are outdoors for long periods of time, especially during peak UV times - your skin will thank you for it.

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