Category: First Aid


Sunburn is the skin's reaction to ultraviolet ray exposure. It results in reddening and tenderness of the skin. Usually occurs between 12-24 hours after the exposure. 

Signs and Symptoms of Sunburn

Can develop blisters and shedding of outer skin. Some oral medications too may make the skin more sensitive to sunburns. It can occur in people of all ages, particularly fair people.

First Aid Steps for Sunburn

  1. Remove the casualty from direct sun and keep them in shade.
  2. Apply cold compresses to the burnt area to cool the skin or immerse the affected area in a cold bath for at least 10 minutes.
  3. As the casualty may be dehydrated, encourage them to take frequent small sips of water.
  4. If the sunburn is mild, apply some soothing calamine lotion; for severe sunburn take the casualty to see a doctor straight away.

If a person has suffered a sunburn:

  • Further direct sun exposure should be avoided for a couple of days.
  • Cold milk or water soaks may help cool and soothe the affected areas.
  • Ibuprofen helps with redness and pain.
  • Applying a non-prescribed greasy cream or ointment must be avoided.
  • A lot of fluids must be consumed.
  • Do not attempt to break any blisters that may form.Cover these with gauze,need be. If any of those break on their own, a topical antibiotic ointment can be applied. A moisturizer might help with skin peeling afterwards. 

To reduce risk of skin cancer later in life, sunburns must be prevented.

  • Avoid direct sun in the middle of the day (10:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.) even on snowy or cloudy days. 
  • Use a hat with a wide brim when out and Sunglasses.
  • Cover up with tightly woven clothing. Some manufacturers make speciality clothing with a high sun protection factor (SPF) rating, look out for one. 
  • Use sunscreen on all exposed skin areas, before going outdoors even on lips.Apply it generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply every 2 hours or after swimming /sweating a lot.Minimum recommended sunscreen is SPF15.
  • Avoid using tanning beds or lamps!

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