Sunburn

Sunburn is red, hot and sore skin caused by too much sun. It may flake and peel after a few days. You can treat it yourself. It usually gets better within 7 days.

How to ease sunburn yourself

Do

  • get out of the sun as soon as possible

  • cool your skin with a cool shower, bath or damp towel - do not to let a baby or young child get too cold

  • apply aftersun cream or spray, like aloe vera

  • drink plenty of water to cool down and prevent dehydration

  • take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for any pain

  • cover sunburnt skin from direct sunlight until skin has fully healed

Don't

  • do not use petroleum jelly on sunburnt skin

  • do not put ice or ice packs on sunburnt skin

  • do not pop any blisters

  • do not scratch or try to remove peeling skin

  • do not wear tight-fitting clothes over sunburnt skin

Talk to a pharmacist

You can ask a pharmacist:

  • about the best sunburn treatments
  • if you need to see a GP

When to talk to your GP

Talk to your GP if:

  • your skin has blisters or is swollen
  • your temperature is very high, or you feel hot and shivery
  • you feel very tired, dizzy and sick
  • you have a headache and muscle cramps
  • your baby or young child has sunburn

Severe sunburn can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These can be very serious.

Getting sunburnt can increase your chance of getting skin cancer.

Related topic

Preventing skin cancer


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

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