Blog Archive

Sunburn

Sunburn

Sunburn is damage caused to the skin by UV rays (sunshine).

The skin becomes red, warm, sore and tender. It may start to flake and peel after a few days, and will usually fully heal within 7 days.

Sunburn is usually mild and short-lived, but it’s important to try to avoid it because it can increase your risk of developing skin problems in later life, such as ageing (wrinkling) and skin cancer.

It can be easy to underestimate the strength of the sun when you’re outside. The wind and getting wet, such as going in and out of the sea, may cool your skin, so you don’t realise you’re getting burnt.

You should always be aware of the risk of sunburn if you’re outside in strong sunshine, and look out for your skin getting hot.

  • Apply sunscreen
    Apply a good amount of sunscreen of at least factor 15 and four-star UVA rating. You should follow the guidance on the bottle of how often you should reapply.

    After swimming or being in water, you should always reapply sunscreen after you’ve got out and dried off, even if you use water-resistant sunscreen.
  • Spend time in the shade
    Stay in the shade between the hottest hours of the day 11am & 3pm.
  • Cover up
    Wear suitable clothing and sunglasses
  • Drink plenty
    Drink plenty of water or juice throughout the day to keep hydrated.
  • Take extra care
    You should take extra care in the sun if you:
    – have pale, white or light brown skin
    – have freckles or red/fair har
    – tend to burn rather than tan
    – have many moles
    – have a family history of skin cancer

If you do get sunburnt follow these steps to try and ease your discomfort.

  • Cool your skin by having a cold bath or shower or by holding a cool flannel or sponge to it
  • Use lotions containing Aloe Vera to soothe and moisturise your skin
  • Drink plenty of water to cool you down and prevent dehydration
  • Take painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to relieve pain

Contact your GP or call NHS 111 if you feel unwell or you’re concerned about your sunburn, particularly if you’re burnt over a large area or have any of the more severe symptoms listed below.

You should also see your GP if a young child or baby has sunburn as their skin is particularly sensitive.

Signs of severe sunburn can include:

Special burn cream and burn dressings may be needed for severe sunburn. These are available from your GP or nurse at your GP surgery. 

Eczema

Eczema

Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the most common form of eczema.

Atopic eczema causes the skin to become itchy, dry, cracked, sore and red. Some people only have small patches of dry skin, but others may experience widespread red, inflamed skin all over the body.

Although atopic eczema can affect any part of the body, it most often affects the hands, insides of the elbows, backs of the knees and the face and scalp in children.

You can help to improve your eczema by:

  • Avoiding scratching
  • Avoiding temperature extremes
  • Wearing non-irritant clothes
  • Avoiding using fabric softeners
  • Avoiding soap
  • Using moisturisers to help keep the skin hydrated

 

You can visit your Pharmacist who can recommend creams and antihistamines to help minimise the itching.

See your GP if you have symptoms of atopic eczema. They’ll usually be able to diagnose atopic eczema by looking at your skin and asking questions.
Typically, to be diagnosed with atopic eczema you should have had an itchy skin condition in the last 12 months and three or more of the following:

  • visibly irritated red skin in the creases of your skin – such as the insides of your elbows or behind your knees (or on the cheeks, outsides of elbows, or fronts of the knees in children aged 18 months or under) at the time of examination by a health professional
  • a history of skin irritation occurring in the same areas mentioned above
  • generally dry skin in the last 12 months
  • a history of asthma or hay fever– children under four must have an immediate relative, such as a parent, brother or sister, who has one of these conditions
  • the condition started before the age of two (this does not apply to children under the age of four).

Acne

Acne

Acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point. It causes spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that’s hot or painful to touch.

Acne most commonly develops on the:

  • face – this affects almost everyone with acne
  • back – this affects more than half of people with acne
  • chest – this affects about 15% of people with acne

There are some self-help techniques they may help with Acne:

  • Don’t wash affected areas of skin more than twice a day. Frequent washing can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse.
  • Wash the affected area with a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water. Very hot or cold water can make acne worse.
  • Don’t try to “clean out” blackheads or squeeze spots. This can make them worse and cause permanent scarring.
  • Avoid using too much make-up and cosmetics. Use water-based products that are described as non-comedogenic (this means the product is less likely to block the pores in your skin).
  • Completely remove make-up before going to bed.
  • If dry skin is a problem, use a fragrance-free, water-based emollient.
  • Regular exercise can’t improve your acne, but it can boost your mood and improve your self-esteem. Shower as soon as possible once you finish exercising, as sweat can irritate your acne.
  • Wash your hair regularly and try to avoid letting your hair fall across your face.

If you develop acne, it’s a good idea to speak to your local pharmacist for advice. Although acne can’t be cured, it can be controlled with treatment. Several creams, lotions and gels for treating spots are available.

You can find your nearest pharmacy at NHS Choices.

If your acne is making you feel very unhappy or you can’t control your spots with over-the-counter medication, see your GP.

Also see your GP if you develop nodules or cysts, as they need to be treated properly to avoid scarring. Try to resist the temptation to pick or squeeze the spots, as this can lead to permanent scarring.

Scabies

Scabies

Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin. 

Scabies is usually spread through prolonged periods of skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, or through sexual contact.

It can take up to eight weeks for the symptoms of scabies to appear after the initial infection. This is known as the incubation period.

Scabies is part of the ‘Think Pharmacy Minor Ailments Scheme’ so your local Pharmacist can recommend and prescribe treatment.

Your local Pharmacy can prescribe treatment for Scabies.

Impetigo

Impetigo is a common and highly contagious skin infection that causes sores and blisters.
It’s not usually serious and often improves within a week of treatment or within a few weeks without treatment.

Impetigo is the most common skin infection in young children in the UK, but it can affect people of all ages.

 

There are two types of impetigo:

  • non-bullous impetigo – the most common type
  • bullous impetigo

The symptoms of both types are described below.

Non-bullous impetigo
The symptoms of non-bullous impetigo begin with the appearance of red sores – usually around the nose and mouth but other areas of the face and the limbs can also be affected.

The sores quickly burst leaving behind thick, golden crusts typically around 2cm across. The appearance of these crusts is sometimes likened to cornflakes stuck to the skin.

After the crusts dry, they leave a red mark that usually fades without scarring. The time it takes for the redness to disappear can vary between a few days and a few weeks.

The sores aren’t painful, but they may be itchy. It’s important not to touch or scratch the sores because this can spread the infection to other parts of the body, and to other people.

Other symptoms, such as a high temperature (fever) and swollen glands, are rare but can occur in more severe cases.

Bullous impetigo
The symptoms of bullous impetigo begin with the appearance of fluid-filled blisters (bullae) which usually occur on the central part of the body between the waist and neck, or on the arms and legs. The blisters are usually about 1-2cm across.

The blisters may quickly spread, before bursting after several days to leave a yellow crust that usually heals without leaving any scarring.

The blisters may be painful and the area of skin surrounding them may be itchy. As with non-bullous impetigo, it’s important not to touch or scratch the affected areas of the skin.

Symptoms of fever and swollen glands are more common in cases of bullous impetigo.

Impetigo usually gets better without treatment in around two to three weeks.

However, treatment is often recommended because it can reduce the length of the illness to around seven to 10 days and can lower the risk of the infection being spread to others.

Impetigo is part of the Think Pharmacy Minor Ailments Scheme so your local Pharmacist can recommend and prescribe treatment.