Sunburn first aid tips from St. John Ambulance

Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.


It’s summer. The days are warm and long, filled with seemingly endless hours of bright sunshine. You just can’t resist the urge to lie back, catch a few rays and tan your winter weary skin.

But, as science has been warning us for a number of years, there are perils to excessive exposure to sunlight, the kind that can cause injury and pain. St. John Ambulance points out that you can enjoy the sun without risk if you don’t overdo it.

Prevention is the best solution. No matter the skin type, the harmful effects of radiation burns can be sustained by anyone. Don’t stay outdoors too long and never leave tender skin exposed for more than a few minutes at a time. Wear a light, sun repellent cover over bathing suits or other light clothing. Always keep your head and eyes protected.

First Aid for Sunburn

Sunburns can be very serious. Ranging from mild discomfort to severe burning over a large portion of the body, a bad sunburn can also be further complicated by heatstroke. For minor sunburn, give first aid as follows:

1. Check the casualty thoroughly to determine the extent and severity of the burn. Get out of the sun immediately.

2. Cover the burn with a wet towel or gently sponge the area with cool water to relieve pain.

3. Pat the skin dry and apply medicated sunburn ointment or lotion. Apply according to directions on the package and watch for warning signs of an allergic reaction.

4. Protect burnt areas from further exposure to the sun.

5. Don’t break any blisters – doing so may promote infection. If large areas of the skin begin to blister, seek medical help.

6. If the casualty begins to vomit or develops a fever, give first aid for heatstroke and get medical help.

Knowing what to do in an emergency can make all the difference.

St. John Ambulance is a volunteer based non-profit charity dedicated to improving the health and safety of Canadians. St. John First Aid courses help support community projects throughout Saskatchewan. See what St. John can do for you – call 1-888-273-0003 or visit

Organizations: St. John Ambulance

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page