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As temperatures are forecast to soar to 40C in parts of the UK this week, the risk for those prone to sunburn will be rife. Looking after sun-damaged skin can feel like an excruciatingly lengthy and painful process, however, by bathing and showering correctly, you may be able to speed up the recovery of your skin from exposure without inflicting further harm.
Often red, warm, and sore to the touch, sunburn is an inflammatory reaction to damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Aside from short-term pain and discomfort, the impact of sunburn can stretch even further, accelerating skin ageing, as well as being the route cause of the majority of skin cancers.
Usually, sunburnt skin will flake and peel off, which is a sign of your body trying to shed the damaged cells away.
However, looking after your skin while in this stage can be testing – and often painful – so first knowing the right way to bathe will be a good step in the right direction.
Although, amongst all of the things you should do, there are certain things you absolutely shouldn’t.
Experts Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click and John Lawless from Big Bathroom Shop have teamed up to provide the four “crucial” points to remember when bathing and soothing sun-damaged skin.
Wait for the right temperature
It’s always a good idea to take a cold shower or bath after strong sun exposure to cool down the skin. The experts warn never to take a hot one, as this could irritate the skin’s epidermis, which is the outer layer.
There is not a hard and fast rule on the amount of time you should wait to shower, but Mr Kanani said: “What’s more important, is you should always wait to make sure the water temperature is right before getting in a shower or bath to ensure the skin has no further irritation.”
Mr Lawless added: “You could also add a cold compress to the area using a flannel or cloth if you have limited access to a bath or shower, which should offer instant relief from the itchy, burning sensation.”
Extreme temperatures should be avoided at all costs, as this could further aggravate the skin.
Mr Kanani said: “Hot water will add to the burning sensation and could interfere with the skin’s healing process.”
Mr Lawless said: “If you have a thermostatic shower, it is easy to change the temperature of the water, and you can adjust as required depending on the weather, skin type and level of discomfort from any sunburn.”
Use the lowest pressure possible
If you have particularly sore skin, only take a shower if you can control the pressure – taking a bath may be a little gentler.
Mr Kanani said: “High water pressure should be avoided as it can further aggravate the affected area and potentially burst skin blisters and inflame heat rash, which can be painful.”
Submerge in water with added ingredients
As mentioned, baths – if you have one – can often be the best bet in terms of looking after sunburn.
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Run a cool bath to submerge the burn as much as you can with a few additional, natural ingredients to help expedite the healing process.
John said: “Run the tap until the tub is around three-quarters full to fully submerge your body comfortably. If legs are the affected area, you can sit in a shallow depth to save water and use compresses on less affected areas such as shoulders”.
In terms of additional, soothing ingredients, Mr Kanani said: “I would recommend adding a few drops of lavender or chamomile oil to your bath to help relieve the stinging sensation.”
Getting out and towelling off
Try not to spend too much time in the bath, as this could dry your skin out further.
Mr Lawless said: “Use a clean, soft towel to gently pat your skin dry and finish with a repairing cream like aftersun or E45.”
However, it’s important to take precautions to protect your skin from the sun first – before you’re forced to treat the damage afterwards.
Victoria Evans, Education Manager at Dermalogica told Express.co.uk: “With the scorching heat over today and tomorrow, we advise avoiding the sun as much as possible and recommend not sitting outside during peak hours.”
She added: “Keep your skin safe by applying high factors of sun cream and staying out of the sun for periods longer than 15-30 minutes.”
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