We've all been caught out in the sun at some point, right? Despite our best 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. 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.
Ouch! Sunburn can put a dampener on your summer fun
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.
MORE: 7 natural remedies for hay fever sufferers
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
Get out of the sun as soon as possible - a cold shower or cold flannel will help cool the skin and reduce irritation. 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.
Keep sunburnt skin moisturised
Get the right products
Make sure the area is well moisturised to prevent scabs forming and flakiness. Traditional after-sun lotions often contain alcohols which give an instant cooling sensation, but are generally no more effective than a traditional moisturiser! Store your favourite light lotion (try one that's designed for sensitive skin for those soothing ingredients) in the fridge instead, or use a pure Aloe Vera gel for a naturally cooling effect. 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.
Try Ultrasun's range for staying safe in the sun, and Green People's soothing after-sun lotion
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.
Make like Meghan 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+ (available here).
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!
MORE: How to treat summer's most common ailments – from prickly heat to traveller's tummy
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!
This article contains affiliate links, which means HELLO! may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. More information.