After Sunburn

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The First Aid Team
by First Aid Team

Following on from the previous article about the risks of sun-burn, this week we take a look at what to do if you do get sun-burnt.

First and foremost, it doesn’t matter what causes the injury, a burn is a burn is a burn is a burn; in terms of the injury itself, it makes little, if any, difference what caused the burn whether hot water (a wet burn) or sub-burn (a radiation burn).

With any burn (excluding chemical and electrical ones) you need to cool the burn as quickly as you can using, ideally, cold running water and you need to keep cooling it for a minimum of 20 minutes – if you do not get the heat and pain out of the burn it will only keep on getting worse.

Cooling a burn needs to be done as soon as possible after the injury occurs as if left too long then the more damage caused as the heat from the injury will only go deeper and what started as a superficial – or 1st degree – burn could soon become a partial thickness (2nd degree) one.

Once the burn is cooled sufficiently, then remove any loose clothing or jewellery from the affected area – do not remove any stuck clothing as you’ll take a layer of skin with it and it’ll be very painful to say the least.

Please do not use any of the following on a burn:

  • Butter
  • Cooking oils (even if it is cold pressed extra virgin olive oil)
  • Toothpaste
  • Dripping or lard
  • Egg whites
  • Yogurt
  • Ice-cold vodka
  • Cucumber
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Potato
  • Vaseline or other petroleum jelly
  • Ice or ice packs

My thanks to all those people on our first aid courses who have suggested these as ways of treating a burn, usually with the comment ‘that’s what my mum always used to do and it always worked!’

It is worth mentioning that whilst products like after-sun and Aloe Vera based burn creams can help after the cooling process has completed, they do not actually draw heat from the burn so you should always start with a minimum of 20 minutes cooling with water and seeking medical attention if required.

We’ll explore the wider issue of burns in our next article

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