Sunburn happens to white-skinned people who are eager to be suntanned and don’t know how much their skins can take.
The ultraviolet part of the sun’s radiation does the tanning and it can also cause sunburn, skin cancer and other skin damage. So don’t be fooled by the cool mornings! The sunburn risk can get quite high at midday.
Avoid sunbathing between 11am and 4pm when you first expose yourself to the sun in your swimmers this year, and 15 minutes a day is enough until you have built up a tan.
Always wear protection. Sunscreen products work by protecting the skin from ultraviolet rays. Products vary in the amount of protection they give. Your doctor can advise you on which product suits your skin best, particularly if you have problems due to a skin condition or allergy.
As a rule fair skins need more protection than olive skins. Some parts of the body such as the nose and lips, bald heads and other parts not frequently exposed should always receive extra protection.
Children need extra protection to avoid long-term damage to the skin. Babies should not be in the midday sun at all.
Physical sunscreens such as zinc cream prevent the sun getting to the skin.
Chemical sunscreens vary from ones that block 99 percent of the ultraviolet rays to ones that give less than 30 percent protection. Ideally you should apply the sunscreen to a clean, dry skin at least an hour before going in the hot sun, so that the sunscreen can react with the skin to give maximum protection.
Remember that the protection they give, will be lessened by swimming and if you perspire freely. Frequent applications of the sunscreen are necessary, perhaps every two hours.
A suntanned skin is less vulnerable to sunburn, and therefore the thickness and frequency of application of the sunscreen can be reduced. You will learn from experience how much sun your skin can take. People with red hair and freckles will often never tan, but only burn. It is something they have to learn to live with.
Do remember that excessive exposure to the sun has an ageing effect which is irreversible. It destroys the elastic tissue in the skin and can make you look older than you are.
Sunburn can have the same effect as being in a fire or having boiling water poured over the body. It needs the same kind of treatment as accidental burns, for it can cover a very large area of the body and result in first-, second- or third-degree burns.
When a child is badly sunburned over a wide area of the body and feels sick, he should see a doctor as soon as possible.
In mild cases, you can prevent a member of your family from developing sun blisters, by applying water as cold as possible until the sting goes. A very cold bath with ice in it is a good idea, or you can soak a sponge in iced water and squeeze the water out over the sunburn, and continue doing so until the pain has gone.
Sunbathing is bliss, but the recipe for that desired even, light golden tan (without cracking and raw-red skin) is 15 minutes of gentle cooking before 11am and after 4pm, lightly basked with a sunscreen preparation, and then a swim to cool off.