First Aid Advice

Sunburn’s Not That Bad…Right?


It’s unavoidable living somewhere like the Gold Coast that you won’t get sunburned at least once in your life. You can have the best of intentions and still get caught out with not reapplying sunscreen, falling asleep in the sun or just not realising how bad you are burning because you are swimming.

Usually it’s not until the next day that we realise how bad the damage is. And is it that bad, you ask yourself? You chuckle, rub some aloe vera on it and put it out of your mind. But what happens when you are severely sunburnt?

Severe sunburn first aid

An extreme sunburn results in blisters forming on the skin which can result in infection.


Severe sunburn can occur if you spend hours in the sun with no protection whatsoever. Think falling asleep or spending the whole day in the water. Symptoms of severe sunburn include the following:

  • Red shiny skin with painful and extensive blisters
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fever

Dehydration often accompanies severe sunburn and the symptoms for that are similar to the above.


For severe blistering, seek medical attention as it is possible for the blisters to become infected. If any dizziness, nausea or vomiting are experienced, go to the hospital immediately. There are no creams or ointments that can prevent or heal blistering as it’s part of the natural healing process. Moisturiser can be applied to the skin to rehydrate which will speed up the healing process. Never apply butter to a severe sunburn.

Prevention is always the best cure with sunscreen, hats, long sleeve clothing and sunglasses. But in those (sometimes inevitable) circumstances where you do get sunburned, know how to recognise if a situation is an emergency and the procedures to follow.