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.
If you do get sunburnt follow these steps to try and ease your discomfort.
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.
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:
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:
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:
There are some self-help techniques they may help with Acne:
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 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.
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:
The symptoms of both types are described below.
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.
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.