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Guide to surviving sunburns

Many of us look forward to summer – the warm weather, the bright sunshine, the lazy days at the beach. But if we're not careful, our fun in the sun could be cut short by the painful sting of sunburn.

Sunburn is a type of burn caused by overexposure to the sun's heat and radiation. It is generally marked by redness and mild-to-moderate pain. Severe sunburn may also result in blistering of the skin.

The best way to ward off sunburn is by limiting your time outdoors, particularly in the early afternoon, when the sun is at its peak. When you are outdoors, even if it's cloudy or near dark, wear sunscreen (at least 30 SPF) and keep covered in light-colored, lightweight clothing. And don't forget the hat!

If, despite these efforts, you do find yourself a little pink (or lobster red), try these tips and tricks for quick sunburn relief.

Sunburn Treatment

The easiest way to treat sunburn is to apply a cool compress and / or over-the-counter sunburn remedies such as aloe vera gel. Cool showers or baths may also help.

For pain relief, topical treatments such as hydrocortisone cream or common pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen are available at any pharmacy. Be sure to check with the pharmacist about possible interactions with any other medications you may take, and follow the safety precautions and recommended dosage on the packaging. Drinking lots of cool fluids, especially water, can help fight the dehydration that may accompany sunburn.

Peeling is a part of the healing process for sunburn. Lotion may help relieve any associated itching, but little can be done to prevent the peeling itself. If your sunburn is severe enough to cause blisters, extra care is warranted. Do not break the blisters. If you find your clothes rub, loosely cover the blisters with non-adhesive gauze, being careful to tape around, not over, the blistered area.

Baby Care Sunburn

A baby's skin is particularly delicate. Limit your baby's time in the sun, and protect his or her skin with sunblock, lightweight clothing and a hat.

If your baby or toddler (under two years of age) does get sunburned, use cool baths or compresses (a towel soaked in cool water will do) to relieve the pain and prevent the burn from deepening (if applied at first sign of sunburn). If the skin is blistered, seek medical advice immediately. If not, you may still want to consult your doctor or pediatrician for the best care and treatment advice.

A little sunshine is good for everyone, but the right precautions will help ensure that your time in the sun leaves a lasting impression only in your memory, not on your skin!

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