Emergency advice


  1. Cover the skin and move into shade.
  2. Drink sips of water.
  3. Cool with cold water or after-sun lotion.
  4. If severe seek medical advice.

What is sunburn?

Whether you’re out in the park, or relaxing on the beach, it’s important to avoid too much exposure to the sun by covering up with clothing, staying in the shade and applying high factor sunscreen. Most sunburn is mild, but in severe cases the skin can become damaged, turn lobster red and blister. People with sunburn may also develop heat exhaustion. 

Signs and symptoms

What to look for: 

  • reddened skin 
  • pain in the area of the burn 
  • There may be blistering

What to do

  1. Cover the skin with light clothing and move them out of the sun.

  2. Give them cold water to sip.

  3. Cool the skin with cool water for 10 minutes.

  4. Apply calamine lotion to soothe mild sunburn.

  5. If there are blisters, advise that they see a healthcare professional.

  6. Treat any symptoms of heat exhaustion or heatstroke and get medical help. 

Our training courses:

First aid courses

First aid courses


Related first aid advice


Blisters are common on the feet and can be caused by ill-fitting shoes, but can appear anywhere on the skin. Learn what to look for and what to do.


If someone has heatstroke, your priority is to cool the casualty down as quickly as possible and get them to hospital. Find out what to look for and what to do.

How to use a cold compress

Cooling an injury like a sprain or bruise can help to reduce the swelling and pain. Find out how to use two types of cold compress.

St John Ambulance volunteers providing support