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Sat, 14 Dec 2019 04:40 GMT

Slip, Slop, Slap: How to Recover from Sunburn

Lifestyle & Health

Hannah Bardsley - 7DNews London

Tue, 13 Aug 2019 09:15 GMT

What lovely rosy cheeks you have, and a forehead to match, oh your arms as well. Right, you are just sunburnt…I’m sorry.

We talk about the ‘colour’ in people’s cheeks, buy multiple shades of blush to give ourselves that perfectly-bright-face look but there is one type of redness that we can pretty much agree is completely unnecessary. And that is sunburn.

It’s one of those unnecessary cruelties of life. That the sun, this life-giving, light-shining, radiant beast we adore should present us with beautiful warm days and then punish us for daring to go outside and enjoy them. Or at least I think it’s cruel, but then I’m speaking as a ginger.

For those who have never experienced sunburn, I do not have enough time to go into how lucky you are. There is nothing quite like the experience of your skin frying in the hot sun. Sometimes you can feel the burn happening as you run from one place of shade to another, or risk it on the beach.

Other days you may find yourself bitterly betrayed by a deceptively cloudy day. It even rained! How dare the sun burn you when the weather had the audacity to rain. At least on cloudy days the sunburn is only mild.

But woe betide you if you forget to apply sun cream on a sunny day. When I say I forget to apply sun cream, I don’t just mean in general. If you are a ginger like me you may find every half an hour is just enough applications to keep your skin safe. Others might need to do it less but nonetheless they’ll need to do it. 

And yet, for those of us predisposed to burning, it seems inevitable that it will happen at some point. No matter how much effort we put into it, at some point, or several points in our life we will find our skin red and blistered and touching it will be an absolute nightmare. I know I’m not painting a pretty picture but what can I say, it isn’t.

Then come all the home remedies… What are the best ways to treat sunburn? Well, as someone who has had to slather their shoulders in cream and then cover them with cling film to stop anything rubbing against them, I am curious to find out.

The first and most important thing to find, that everyone swears by, is Aloe Vera Gel. Or if you live in a country where aloe vera grows naturally and in abundance, just break off a leaf or two and smear the sap over your burns. 

The plant contains a compound called aloin that has anti-inflammatory qualities. This helps to soothe and calm first and second-degree burns. It is recommended to buy 100% Aloe Vera Gel as anything else may aggravate the skin. 

When you don’t have aloe vera, don’t find yourself falling into the trap of applying whatever moisturiser you can find. And Vaseline is not a good idea, anything that contains petroleum will trap the heat and stop the healing process. 

And much as you may be tempted to pour cool water over your back, save most of it for your insides. Sunburn needs to be healed from the outside and the inside and the importance of being hydrated cannot be stressed enough. The more fluids going into your body the better. This also helps to tackle the dehydration which can be caused by sunburn.

Then comes the tricky part. It can be so very tempting to remove an ice pack from the freezer to cover your skin, but according to the British NHS and the American Academy of Dermatology they are to be completely avoided. (Wish I had known that earlier.) 

Instead, to soothe the burn you should apply cold, damp towels or take a cold bath or shower. And try to refrain from touching it, if it irritates or hurts (which it probably will), standard painkillers are recommended.

But of course, the best cure is to avoid getting sunburnt in the first place. So, find a hat, some sun cream and in the words of the great Australian proverb, “Slip, slop, slap”.