Sunburn is damage caused to the skin by UV rays (sunshine).
The skin becomes red, warm, sore and tender. It may start to flake and peel after a few days, and will usually fully heal within 7 days.
Sunburn is usually mild and short-lived, but it’s important to try to avoid it because it can increase your risk of developing skin problems in later life, such as ageing (wrinkling) and skin cancer.
It can be easy to underestimate the strength of the sun when you’re outside. The wind and getting wet, such as going in and out of the sea, may cool your skin, so you don’t realise you’re getting burnt.
You should always be aware of the risk of sunburn if you’re outside in strong sunshine, and look out for your skin getting hot.
If you do get sunburnt follow these steps to try and ease your discomfort.
Contact your GP or call NHS 111 if you feel unwell or you’re concerned about your sunburn, particularly if you’re burnt over a large area or have any of the more severe symptoms listed below.
You should also see your GP if a young child or baby has sunburn as their skin is particularly sensitive.
Signs of severe sunburn can include:
Special burn cream and burn dressings may be needed for severe sunburn. These are available from your GP or nurse at your GP surgery.