Taking care of sunburn

Sunburn can be an uncomfortable and painful condition. You can treat sunburnt skin by:

Taking the heat out of it

Soaking a cloth in cold water and placing it on your sunburn can reduce the heat. You can leave the cold cloth on for 10-15 minutes and repeat several times a day. Alternatively, cool baths or showers can also help. The water can dry out your skin though, so pat yourself dry quickly and thoroughly with a towel after your shower and use moisturiser.


Using a moisturiser can soothe sunburnt skin. Applying this as early as possible can minimise the damage done. Avoid petroleum-based products, as these can trap heat within the sunburnt skin.

Pain relief

Simple pain-relief medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can help with the discomfort of sunburn.

Drink water

Sunburn can leave you very dry, so it is important to replace lost fluids to avoid dehydration. It is also important to avoid alcohol as this will cause further dehydration.

It is important to replace fluids to avoid dehydration.It is important to replace fluids to avoid becoming dehdydrated from sunburn. 

Do not pop blisters

If you have blisters, this means that you have a pretty bad sunburn. The skin of the blisters is protecting the underlying damaged skin, so do not pop them. Popping the blisters will mean that the skin dries out and can get infected. The blisters will gradually reduce in size as your sunburn heals.

Protect your sunburn

While your sunburn is healing, it is important to protect that skin from further sun exposure. This means covering up if you need to go into the sun.

Protect your skin from sun exposure.It is important to protect your sunburnt skin from further sun exposure. 

Severe sunburn

If you have any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor:

  • Extensive blistering and severe pain;
  • Headache;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Fever, and;
  • Feeling dizzy or confused.


Sunburn causes long-term damage to the skin and increases your risk of developing skin cancer in the future. It is best to prevent sunburn by using sunscreen, covering up and staying in the shade. 

Last Reviewed: 03/10/2018

Your Doctor. Dr Michael Jones, Medical Editor.

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