Sunburns

June 30, 2014 in First Aid

It’s that time of year again!  Sea, sand, sun…it’s SUMMER!  Given the high temperatures that the Maltese Islands experience, it’s to be expected that many people spend every free moment cooling off in the sea or relaxing on the beach.

Beach and sea activities are great fun, but a fun day out can turn into a painful week ahead.  Sunburn can be either minor or rather serious.  Either way, it’s uncomfortable (painful if it’s a bad sunburn) and does not do your skin any good.  The best cure is prevention, and here’s how you can avoid looking like a lobster this summer…

Shade – staying in the shade is a great way to reduce the risk of sunburn.  Use a physical shield, like a beach umbrella.  Try to avoid spending too much time in the sun between noon and 3pm, as there is a high chance of getting sunburnt during that period.

Protective clothing – wearing light clothing that covers more skin is a great way to avoid getting burned.  Loose, light clothing can also help keep you cooler than shorter, tighter clothes.

Sun block – use a high factor sun block, especially during the hotter periods of the day (late morning to mid-afternoon).  Apply the sun block at least 10 minutes before going out into the sun in order to get the most benefits.  Re-apply sun block frequently throughout the day, particularly after swimming or perspiring a lot.  If you want to try to sun tan, use a slightly lower sun block, but avoid using products like tanning oils.  You can speak to your pharmacist for more information about the right products to use for your skin.

Drink lots of water – although the most obvious effect of over-exposure to the sun is sunburn, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and dehydration are serious and potential complications.  Drink lots of water and try and stay as cool as possible.

Treatment for Sunburn

If you need to treat sunburned skin, here’s what you should do:

  1. Cover the casualty’s skin with light clothing or a towel and help them to move out of the sun (ideally indoors).
  2. Give the casualty some cold water to sip.
  3. Cool the sunburned skin by dabbing the area with cold water for 10 minutes.  Alternatively, the casualty may prefer to soak in a bath of cold water for 10 minutes.
  4. If the sunburn is mild, use calamine lotion or a suitable after-sun lotion.  Check that the casualty is not allergic to any of the lotion ingredients before applying it.
  5. If the sunburn is severe or blisters start to form, continue cooling the area and seek medical advice.

If you missed our previous First Aid tips, check out our First Aid section for tips that might come in handy this summer, such as how to treat a jellyfish sting or a burn from a BBQ.

Stay safe, have fun and enjoy your summer!

Deborah Cefai