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Holiday Horrors: Sunburn

Sunburn hurts. A lot.

We’re in France and on day 2 it was raining and very very cloudy.

The boys all took to the pool with gusto and we never thought about topping up the suncream. The result was that we were all slowly being roasted through the clouds.

Two of the kids sunburn abated with a day out of the sun, but for eldest, it was a trip to the local doctor who spoke no English at all. We did manage to communicate with some difficulty and he has second degree sunburn on his shoulders.

We used natural yoghurt on the first night as after sun just wasn’t doing anything for it.

That got me thinking about the different degrees of sunburn and how they should be treated differently. I am also a bit more sensible and I am making sure the kids have a sunscreen top up every hour.

Sunburn happens when the skin is burned from ultra violet light (UV). ANY redness is sunburn and it IS damaging our skin.

Even with creams and lotions, skin can still be burned so take care. Clothes do provide a good barrier and shut out the rays.

OK – first aid for sunburn.

If someone has passed out, is semi- conscious, or is not making sense, seems to have lost control over their body or is having difficulty breathing with any level of sunburn – call the emergency services. That is sun poisoning.


This is what we see most. Patient is conscious, skin goes red and it’s quite easy to see on eldest and myself as we both have very fair skin. The skin may turn pink to bright red and is sore.

All burns are dehydrating so give plenty water. After sun lotions or moisturisers can be applied to the skin to keep it moist and provide relief from the pain.

Small blisters may appear and it is a good idea to see a doctor if they do.

The burn will heal, possibly in a few days. Skin may flake and peel, but resist the temptation to pick it off as it might take off healthy skin around it.


The skin is so burned that it tries to protect itself with noticeable blisters.

Don’t put ice on it as it will make things worse.

With eldest, these yellow orange blisters appeared almost 2 full days AFTER the day he was exposed to the clouds. He stayed inside for the first day afterwards as we thought he just had regular sunburn. Thank goodness he wasn’t outside the say after the burn.

Never open or pop the blisters. They may weep, but leave them alone.

Keep the sunburned person out of the sun and get a doctors opinion of the blisters, even if they don’t have the symptoms of sun poisoning. They will need prescription cream to put on the burns. Don’t wrap up the blistered skin as it will stick to anything it meets.

Wear cotton white t-shirts for the next week and stay out of swimming pools or the sea.

If the burn covers more than a third of their body, even without signs of sun poisoning, get them to hospital or call emergency services.


This is dangerous. The body cannot cope with the damage to cells.

Skin may look dried and cracked. The person will most likely be unconscious and in danger. If they are conscious, they may not feel the pain due to nerve damage.

Call emergency services immediately.

Don’t move them, but get shade over them. Sprinkle cool water (no ice) over the skin if you can.

Disclaimer: this article is for information only. I am not a trained medical professional. If in doubt, always consult your GP or doctor for advice.


6 thoughts on “Holiday Horrors: Sunburn

  1. Oh that looked sore. I remember getting really badly burnt back in the early seventies when I was about 8 years old. Nobody knew any better way back then.


  2. Ouch, that looks and sounds nasty. We are off to france in two weeks and have some once a day P20 which I will make the boys wear and also rash vests for them too. Are they allowed to wear UV/rash vests in the pool?

    1. We ended up in a doctors surgery for the sunburn and special cream to be put on to it. I didn’t see anyone with UV vests in the pool, but if they are swimsuit type material, you’d probably get away with it.

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