First Aid Training - Sunburn

Introduction

Sunburn can be caused by overexposure to the sun or even a sun lamp. At high altitudes sunburn can occur even on an overcast summer day. Some medicines can trigger severe sensitivity to sunlight and rarely it can be caused by exposure to radioactivity.

Most sunburn is superficial. In severe cases, the skin is a lobster red in colour and blistered - the casualty may also be suffering from heatstroke.

Recognition

Sunburn is often recognised by:

  • Reddened skin.
  • Pain in the area of the burn.
  • Later there may be blistering to the affected skin.

Treatment

Your aims when dealing with somebody with sunburn is to move the casualty out of the sun or away from the source of the sunburn and to relieve any discomfort and pain.

Caution though, if there is extensive blistering or any other skin damage you need to seek medical advice.

  • With minor sunburn cover the casualty’s skin with light clothing or a towel.
  • Move them into the shade or preferably indoors.
  • Cool the skin by sponging it with cool water or by soaking the affected area in a cold bath or a cool shower for ten minutes.
  • Encourage the casualty to have frequent sips of cold water.
  • If the burns are mild calomine lotion or an aftersun preparation may soothe them.
  • For severe sunburn obtain medical aid.
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