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How to treat sunburn this summer: The best tips and tricks

Have a sunburn? Find out how to treat sun-scorched skin quickly

sunburn treatments
Fiona Ward
Fiona WardActing Fashion and Beauty Editor
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We've all been caught out in the sun at some point, right? Despite our best skin care intentions slathering on the SPF, covering up and staying in the shade when we can, chances are we'll all suffer from a little sunburn at some point.

RELATED: 10+ best after sun lotions, from cooling sun burn relief to tan extenders

Of course, the best thing is to avoid getting burnt in the first place – regular sunburn may produce serious consequences for your skin in the long term – but if you do find yourself feeling red and sore, there are steps you can take to soothe your skin and get it back to normal as soon as possible.


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If the sunburn is serious, with cracking, blisters or swelling of the skin, or accompanied by severe heat exhaustion or sun stroke symptoms – such as headaches, fever, dizziness or sickness – you should always seek medical assistance. Equally, if your baby or young child is suffering with sunburn, always consult a doctor if concerned.

RELATED: 8 heatstroke symptoms you shouldn't ignore

In the case of light to moderate sunburn, though, there are simple steps you can take to improve your symptoms. The aim is to find a treatment that will repair the skin and help it regenerate, as well as calming the heat, irritation and itching.

Cool the area

moisturise sunburn

Keep sunburnt skin moisturised

Get out of the sun as soon as possible – a cold shower or cold flannel will help cool the skin and reduce irritation.

how to treat sunburn cooling towel

Cooling ice towel, £10.99 / $7.99, Amazon


If you can, sitting in front of a fan as you apply moisturising lotion or Aloe Vera (more on that below!) will help the skin settle, too.

RELATED: This ice towel is the ultimate heatwave saviour

banana boat aloe vera best after sun

Banana Boat Aloe Vera Gel, £5 / $10


Get the right products

Make sure the area is well moisturised to prevent scabs forming and flakiness. Many after-sun lotions often contain alcohols which give an instant cooling sensation, but are generally no more effective than a traditional moisturiser!

RELATED: All the (literally) cool things on Amazon that you need to beat the heat

Choose an Aloe Vera  enriched after sun product, or store your favourite light lotion (try one that's designed for sensitive skin for those soothing ingredients) in the fridge instead for a cooling effect.

best instant sos after sun clarins

SOS Sunburn Soother Mask, £22 / $32, Clarins


RELATED: The best cooling facial sprays that will keep you refreshed in a heatwave

You can also use a pure Aloe Vera gel. If you're really suffering, take an aspirin – it won't just relieve the pain, but will also have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Don't use Vaseline!

A common myth is that petroleum jelly is good for sunburn - but it will only trap heat in the skin. It's best to avoid anything very thick, greasy or oily.

MORE: How to treat summer's most common ailments, from prickly heat to traveller's tummy

Take care when showering

When you shower, don't let the stream of water fall directly on the affected area. Hygiene should of course be observed, but avoid scented soaps, cosmetics and perfumes. Don't apply ice or ice packs directly to the skin, either! Wrap them in a clean dishcloth or towel.

Drink plenty of water

You need to replace lost fluids, so make sure that glass of water is regularly re-filled.

meghan hat

Make like Meghan Markle and wear a chic sun hat – and keep hydrated!

Avoid the sun while your skin heals

Make sure you don't forget the suncream a second time, wear a hat and always carry a light wrap to cover up if the sun is brighter than you realised. Up your SPF factor, too! We like Ultrasun's SPF 50+ range.

ultrasun extreme 50 spf

ULTRASUN Ultra Sensitive 50+ - Very High Protection for sensitive skin, was £22 now £16.50, Look Fantastic


Wear loose clothing

While your skin heals, avoid tight clothing that will irritate and even heat the area. Loose-fitting, flowing clothes are your friend! 

Don't fuss with your sunburn

Aside from applying product, try not to scratch or touch the affected skin too much. If it starts to peel, don't try to remove the flakes. Don't be tempted to pop any blisters, either. It will only slow down the healing process!

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