Sunburn – Symptoms & First Aid Advice – St John Ambulance

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Sunburn is caused by over exposure to the sun, a sunlamp or sunbed. Find out what to look for and what to do.
Whether you’re out in the park, or relaxing on the beach, it’s important to avoid too much exposure to the sun by covering up with clothing, staying in the shade and applying high factor sunscreen. Most sunburn is mild, but in severe cases the skin can become damaged, turn lobster red and blister. People with sunburn may also develop heat exhaustion. 
What to look for: 
Cover the skin with light clothing and move them out of the sun.
Give them cold water to sip.
Cool the skin with cool water for 10 minutes.
Apply calamine lotion to soothe mild sunburn.
If there are blisters, advise that they see a healthcare professional.
Treat any symptoms of heat exhaustion or heatstroke and get medical help. 

Clinically reviewed by Dr Lynn Thomas, MStJ, BSc, MBBS, MA, FRCP
Page review date: March 2021
More information about our clinical expertise
First aid courses
Blisters are common on the feet and can be caused by ill-fitting shoes, but can appear anywhere on the skin. Learn what to look for and what to do.
If someone has heatstroke, your priority is to cool the casualty down as quickly as possible and get them to hospital. Find out what to look for and what to do.
Cooling an injury like a sprain or bruise can help to reduce the swelling and pain. Find out how to use two types of cold compress.

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