ST JOHN AMBULANCE: Tips for dealing with sunburn

St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid charity has teamed up with the Herald and Gazette to bring you some simple, but life saving, first aid tips '“ this week: dealing with sunburn.

A casualty with sunburn may also from heat exhaustion or heatstroke
A casualty with sunburn may also from heat exhaustion or heatstroke

Over-exposure to the sun, or a sunlamp, can result in sunburn.

At high altitudes, sunburn can occur even on an overcast summer’s day and some medicines can trigger severe sensitivity to sunlight.

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Rarely, sunburn can be caused by exposure to radioactivity.

Sunburn can be prevented by staying in the shade, wearing protective clothing and by regularly applying a high-factor sunscreen.

Most sunburn is superficial; in severe cases, the skin is lobster-red and blistered.

In addition, the casualty may suffer from heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Follow these simple steps to recognise these conditions and to help:

• Sunburn can be recognised by reddened skin and pain in the area of the burn. Later there may be blistering of the affected skin.

• Cover the casualty’s skin with light clothing or a towel. Help them to move out of the sun or, if at all possible, indoors.

• Encourage the casualty to have frequent sips of cold water.

• Cool the affected skin by dabbing with cold water. If the area is extensive, the casualty may prefer to soak the affected skin in a cold bath for ten minutes.

• If the burns are mild, calamine or an after-sun lotion may soothe them. Advise the casualty to stay indoors or in the shade.

• If sunburn is severe, for example, if there is extensive blistering or other skin damage, seek medical advice.

• For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones and the website ( offers demo videos, an interactive game, and lots of free advice. For more information about first aid courses please call 0303 003 0101.


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