How fantastic is the weather at the moment! Perfect timing for the Easter holidays and we (along with most of the country it seems) have been making the most of it. Having been slightly caught off guard by the beautiful rays earlier in the week, today I retrieved a bottle of factor 30 from the back of the cupboard, and even remembered to slop it on the sprogs every so often.
Obviously with many things in life prevention is better than cure, so avoiding getting sunburnt is clearly the name of the game. Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past few decades you will no doubt be aware of the harmful effects of UV light. Despite this, I bet your bottom dollar that you’ve occasionally had a pink glow about you following a long day in the sun? Yup – we’ve all done (and regretted) it. Its worth remembering that children are particularly susceptible to sun related skin damage and a significant burn can markedly increase their lifetime risk of melanoma…. a sobering thought. So if in doubt remember the old slip, slop, slap mantra….
Unfortunately there is no undoing sunburn. If you do misjudge things and get caught out I’m afraid to say that the damage has been done… however there are a few things that are definitely worth trying to ease things as much as possible…..
- Get out of the sun the moment you feel any slight tingling or irritation of your skin. It can take around 4-6 hours for sunburn to develop, so if you are already feeling effects whilst in sunlight this may spell problems later on.
- Bathe the burnt skin in cool (never cold) water, or take a long cool shower.
- After gently drying the skin use plenty of moisturiser and keep reapplying regularly. This will help hydrate the skin and limit peeling. Creams containing vitamin E are often cited as being better than more ‘bog standard’ ones, but as far as I’m aware there is no real scientific evidence for this. I always have used aloe vera based creams as aftersun – but again I don’t think this is terribly scientific (although it does smell nice!). Any plain moisturiser should do the job.
- If the area is very inflamed you can use a small amount of 1% hydrocortisone cream to settle things down. You can buy this over the counter, but I wouldn’t use on the under 2’s without having first consulted your GP.
- Ibuprofen is a good anti-inflammatory, so if things are feeling uncomfortable reach for this rather than paracetamol. Ibuprofen will ease discomfort whilst also reducing inflammation: so a bit of a win-win.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Any burn can potentially lead to dehydration so avoid this by replenishing lost fluids as soon as possible. Children are particularly susceptible so keep encouraging them to drink, or if you are struggling a cold ice-lolly will do the same job.
- Try to leave the skin alone other than to apply lots of moisturiser. Don’t pick at blisters or peeling skin as this will only make things worse.
Hopefully all this advice will be in vain – remember: be careful and protect your skin.