NHS website

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.

21 January 2019

Introduction

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 (take care 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

You can ask a pharmacist:

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

See a GP urgently or call NHS 111 if:

  • your skin is blistered or 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 ↗, which can be very serious.

Getting sunburnt can increase your chance of getting skin cancer. Find out how to protect your skin from the sun and avoid sunburn ↗.