How to care, treat and ultimately repair the effects of sun damaged skin through prolonged over exposure to the sun
Spending too much time in the sun and not using sufficient – or any - sun cream can lead to a painful, damaging and potentially life-threatening experience.
Finding that you have sunburn means that you need to quickly treat your body – both inside and out.
The first thing to do is to ensure you are in the shade and do not venture back into sunlight as this will only make you feel worse.
Increase your intake of liquids as your body will be starting to dehydrate and if you have sunstroke could make you feel dizzy and confused. Avoid alcohol as this can also cause the body to dehydrate further.
Taking a mild over the counter painkiller and anti-inflammatory can help start to heal the body. Paracetamol and ibuprofen are popular choices and will ease the pain of the burning, and will start to reduce the inflammation. Ensure you follow the dosage instructions on the package and do not give to children without first seeking medical advice.
Take a bath or shower. The water should be cool, but not freezing cold as this could make the body go into shock. Ensure the shower has a gentle flow; otherwise it will hurt the skin. Spend 10-20 minutes in the cooling water to reduce your overall body temperature and to help stop skin irritation. If you have blisters on your skin, take a bath rather than a shower as they should not be burst. After leaving the bath or shower, try to air dry rather than use a towel as the friction from the material will irritate and raise the burning sensation.
Liberally apply an after sun product on the affected areas. They are manufactured to sooth and moisturise and often have healing elements such as aloe vera in them to reduce redness. If you are fortunate enough to have a fresh aloe vera plant available then the leaves can be gently pressed to the area to let the body infuse their healing properties.
For the next few days, ensure you wear clothing which covers the burnt areas and try to stay as covered up as possible to minimise further burning. Wear a hat and ensure you liberally apply a high factor sun cream. Clothing should be loose and natural fabrics rather than man made where possible.
If there are signs of skin infection – from any blisters which burst perhaps – medical help should be sought. Similarly, if you feel dizzy, have no urinary output, feel cold and clammy or have blisters covering large areas of skin, then it’s a good idea to seek treatment from a doctor.
Skin cancer is on the rise around the world and one of the main causes is over exposure to sun. Your health is more important than gaining a suntan, and the best way to achieve this is slowly over a number of weeks with a high factor sun cream. Spending half your precious holiday time fully dressed in the shade and in pain is going to make you feel miserable so take it easy in the sun, have fun and you’ll return home looking and feeling healthy.
Off course if you have suffered repeated long term skin damage due to prolonged exposure to the sun there are non-surgical treatments and skin rejuvenation & skin care programs which we can advise and apply to help reduce the appearance of sun damaged skin. For more information please book a consultation by clicking here.
Remember, where sun screen and limit your exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays.