Sunburn and Heat Stroke

Sunburn is caused when you expose your skin to ultraviolet rays without adequate protection. The skin can become red, sore, flaky and itchy.

In This Section


Generally sunburn can be more common if you have been swimming or are on a beach where there is a cool breeze, as you cannot feel your skin burning. 

Sunburn should clear up within a week but should be avoided because it can lead to more serious conditions such as Skin Cancer in some cases.

Click here to learn more about sunburn.

Video support

Who is at Higher Risk?

Some people are at higher risk than others, especially children. Be extra vigilant to protect yourself or your child if you/they:

  • Have pale, white or light brown skin
  • Have freckles or red/fair hair
  • Tend to burn
  • Have many moles
  • Are in particularly intense sun

What to Do

If you or your child has sunburn you can do the following to alleviate some of the discomfort:

  • Ensure fluids are regularly drunk to avoid dehydration
  • Take painkillers if required
  • Apply a water-based lotion to cool the affected area

Sun Safety Tips

Make sure you/they:

  • Seek shade between 11am and 3pm
  • Never burn
  • Cover up your skin with clothing or sunglasses if possible
  • Use at least factor 15 sunscreen, higher for children and those at higher risk

For more sun safety tips click here.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke can occur when your body has been exposed to too much heat, you are unable to cool your body temperature and therefore your core temperature can become dangerously high.

You must take immediate steps to cool your body and if no response is seen within 30 minutes you should dial 999, as Heat Stroke can be fatal as it can affect the vital organs of your body.

Learn more about Heat Stroke here.

How to Treat Heat Stroke

  • Lie down in a cool place 
  • Make yourself as cool as possible by removing any unnecessary clothing
  • Cool your skin by using a flannel or similar item
  • Fan your skin while moist 
  • Drink fluids to hydrate

Sun Safety Tips – Avoid Sunburn and Heat Stroke

Make sure you:

  • Seek shade between 11am and 3pm
  • Never allow yourself to burn
  • Cover up your skin with clothing or sunglasses if possible
  • Ensure children are safe at all times –covered up, protected with high factor sun screen and hydrated
  • Use at least factor 15 sunscreen, higher if possible
  • If you have to go out in the heat, seek shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat
  • Avoid extreme physical exertion in the sun
  • Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes if possible

Word from our GP

  The sun can be a source of great enjoyment both on holiday abroad and at home in the UK. It can also however be a source of great danger for us, and particularly our children. Enjoy the sun, but enjoy it safely!.

Dr Huw Parry, Pencoed New Surgery

Read our coffee break interview with Dr Huw parry on Sunburn and Heat Stroke here.

Things to remember

Although Sunburn usually clears up within a week, it can lead to Skin Cancer so should be avoided at all costs.

  Heat Stroke can also be extremely serious and if treatment steps are followed and no improvement is seen within 30 minutes, 999 should be called.