WHAT IS IT? Sunburn is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun that damage your skin cells. The risk of damage depends on the time of day, the amount of time spent in the sun and whether or not you use sun protection. Sunburn can lead to longterm skin damage and even skin cancer. There are three major •Basal kinds of skin cancer: cell carcinoma (most •Squamous common type) cell carcinoma •Melanoma (second most common) (less common but considerably more dangerous). The simplest way to avoid sunburn is to stay out of the sun. Other sun-safe habits are to avoid the sun at its harshest – usually between 10am and 3pm; stay in the shade; use a good sunscreen and apply it regularly; and wear sunglasses, a hat and protective clothing. DIAGNOSIS: The redness and burning pain are clear indicators that you have been burnt, so usually no further diagnosis is necessary. TREATMENT: If you’ve been sunburned, it can take several days for the skin to heal. Most cases of sunburn can be treated with over-the-counter soothing gels (aloe vera or calamine are best) to help with redness and swelling, and pain relief to ease discomfort. Make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and continue to moisturise your skin as it begins to peel, which is your body’s way of getting rid of the top layer of damaged skin. If at-home treatment doesn’t work, or your sunburn is very severe, see your doctor.