General information

Sunburn is an inflammation of the skin. The highest risk of sunburn in Finland occurs from early spring to August. The skin may become red and sensitive even after a couple of hours of exposure to sunlight.

Closer to the Equator, the skin can burn at any time of the year after sun exposure of no longer than 10 minutes. Some medications and plants can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

In severe, second degree sunburn the skin may swell, itch, feel hot and painful and develop blisters. If large areas of skin have burnt in the sun, the symptoms may include general symptoms such as headache, nausea and you may feel shivery. The symptoms are at their worst within 12–24 hours from exposure.

Self-care and protection

You should wear sunscreen during the summer, in the direct spring sunshine, and in winter sun in snowy conditions. Avoid direct exposure to the sun during the midday (between 11.00-15.00). You can protect yourself against sunburn by wearing long-sleeved tops and a wide-brimmed hat.

Cool down sunburnt skin with cold water and wet cloths. Drinking cool liquids is also helpful. Use hydrocortisone cream on sunburnt skin twice a day and take painkillers if necessary. Hydrocortisone tablets taken as instructed on the package may also help. Ask the pharmacy staff for advice.

Moderate sunburn gets better on its own in a few days. If your skin has already started to peel, you can use normal moisturising lotion available from pharmacies.

When should you seek medical advice?

If a large area of skin is burnt to blisters and you have general symptoms (headache, nausea and fever) it is advisable to seek medical advice.

This Self-care instruction has been produced in collaboration with Duodecim Terveyskirjasto

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Updated  5.6.2020