Whether you protect your skin with a high factor sun protection cream or not, the importance of using after-sun skin care products cannot be over-stressed.
Many people mistake after-sun lotion as a treatment for sunburn, but if your skin is displaying the signs of burning: redness, pain, swelling and blistering, you need far more than an after sun cream to undo the damage.
After sun products are super-nourishing skin boosters that play an important role in the long-term health and welfare of your skin, because even when using the highest factor sun protection cream you can find, small amounts of UVA and UVB are likely to reach your skin as some point. No sunscreen can deliver 100% protection from UV rays.
It is estimated that an SPF15 filters out around 90% of UV rays, while an SPF25 or above will screen 98%. In addition, various external factors affect the protection given by an SPF formula, including the user’s diligence in re-applying it after activities such as swimming. It is also impossible to ignore the fact that many people still aim to achieve a tan, despite the warnings.
After sun care is the perfect complement to an effective sun protection routine, and an essential damage-limitation exercise if your sun care routine is less than perfect. Primarily, it fortifies your skin with anti-oxidants to fight any free radicals that may have been induced by UV exposure. After sun replaces lost moisture from the skin’s surface and can aid cell regeneration to counteract sluggishness in epidermal cell turnover. Finally, after sun will nourish the skin with all the nutrients it needs to recover from the effects of UV rays.
If you follow the sun care code, protect your skin with a suitable SPF product, and apply it as directed, then you should not suffer the effects of sunburn. However, accidents do happen. Here’s how to recognise the symptoms of sunburn, with a guide to the recommended action at every stage.
Symptom: Noticeable reddening of exposed skin.
Action: Move indoors immediately, as UV rays can be reflected into shaded areas and can penetrate clothing. Apply a generous layer of soothing after sun lotion to the reddened area, and avoid futher exposure to the sun without a sun block.
Symptom: A burning sensation that continues even when the sufferer goes indoors.
Action: Soak a soft, clean cloth in cool water and apply to the area, renewing it regularly. If the burning sensation and reddening are severe, you may like to take an aspirin or paracetamol. Once the burning sensation has subsided, apply a generous layer of after sun product, and avoid further exposure to the sun.
Symptom: Blistering of the reddened area, which may ‘weep’ as the skin releases water to cool itself.
Action: This is serious sunburn and should be treated by a doctor. Cold compresses should be gently applied to the area until medical attention can be sought. Drink water to fight dehydration, and avoid further sun exposure.
Symptom: Any or all of the above, plus shivering, sickness and/or other serious symptoms.
Action: This is very serious sunburn, and such symptoms can also indicate heat-stroke or sun stroke too. Medical attention should be sought without delay. As heat or sun stroke can also occur without the symptoms of sunburn, any extreme reaction while in the sun or after sun exposure should be taken seriously and treated at once.
In all cases of sunburn:
- Go indoors immediately
- Drink plenty of water to counteract dehydration
- Do not apply household substances to burned areas
- Cool the area with clean water, or a cold compress
- Avoid further sun exposure