First aid

Updated 10 February 2015


Long day at the beach, enjoyed the summer sun too much? Here's how to treat sunburn.


  • Sunburn easily results in superficial burns, especially in children.
  • Sunburn is managed by cooling the area as quickly as possible.
  • Sunburn can be prevented by avoiding the sun between 10am and 3pm.

Risks of sunburn
Sunburn easily results in superficial burns (recognized by reddening of the skin), especially in young children. In severe cases, intermediate burns (reddening and blistering) could result.

First aid for sunburn

  • Soothe the burn area as quickly as possible with cool water or compresses and let the person rest in a cool room.
  • 1% hydrocortisone cream relieves pain, and tea tree oil may soothe the burn.
  • Use paracetamol for pain.
  • Apply lotion to relieve itch from peeling.
  • If necessary, treat for dehydration.

Watch for signs of heat exhaustion.

Prevention of sunburn

  • Stay out of the sun between 10am and 3pm, especially in summer.
  • Always use sunblock with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher when you are outdoors. Reapply every two hours and more often if you are swimming.
  • Wear a hat and white, protective clothing.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Last updated: July 2009


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