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How To Treat Sunbed Burns

Sunbeds have become hugely popular in recent years, especially in countries such as here in the UK where exposure to sunlight is often a luxury. Research has shown that moderate sun exposure offers an array of benefits, from building stronger bones and a healthier immune system to improving sleep and mood. Sunbeds provide a way to get some benefits of sunlight during those long, dark days when you barely get a glimpse of the sun.

Disclaimer: Our solicitors process sunbed tanning injury claims for our clients, however they are not medically trained and therefore the following content shouldn’t be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have suffered burns from a sunbed and need qualified expert medical advice we would strongly advise calling the National Health Service on 111, or if it is an emergency you should call 999.

It’s not health benefits that draw most people towards using sunbeds however. Many people use sunbeds to get that trendy year-round tanned look.

In moderation and with the proper use and precautions, sunbeds can help you get a head-start on your holiday tan so you won’t look pale when you hit the beach in the summer. However, just like overexposure to the natural rays of the sun, overexposure to sunbed bulbs too can result in burns and because the bulbs used emit concentrated UV light, these burns can be far worse.

Symptoms Of Sunbed Burns

The symptoms of sunbed burns may range from redness and sensitivity to temperature to tenderness, pain, peeling, and blistering. While the symptoms will go away eventually without treatment, it can take a long time during which you will likely be in some degree of discomfort and pain. There are several home remedies as well as commercial products that work very well to soothe the painful sensations.

As with any other type of burn injuries, the most important thing to do is to bring down the temperature of the skin. The longer you wait to do this, the longer the heat will act on your skin, resulting in more severe burn injuries.

How To Treat Sunbed Burns

Here are a few things you can do immediately to treat a sunbed burn and then over the next few days or weeks, depending on the extent of the burn.

  • Apply cold water to cool the skin down

If you are at home, the best thing to do is place the area that is burned under cool running water for a few minutes or wrap in a cool damp towel. If you are burnt all over, stand under a shower and let the cool water run over your body.

Be gentle, both with the temperature of the water and the pressure. If the water is too cold, you could go into shock. Too much water pressure will irritate the affected area causing it to become more painful.

  • Apply aftersun cream such as Aloe Vera to soothe the skin

Aftersun creams and lotions such as Aloe Vera lotion will help with cooling down the skin. Many people keep Aloe Vera plants in their homes for several different purposes.

If you have an Aloe Vera plant at home, cut one of the leaves from the plant and rub the aloe sap directly onto the burn for cooling relief. Do this several times a day with a freshly cut leaf to soothe the itching and pain and help the skin heal faster.

If you do not have an Aloe Vera plant at home as most people will not, aloe vera lotion should work just as well. Apply the lotion gently over the affected area several times a day.

  • Drink plenty of water

Staying rehydrated is one of the most overlooked aspects of sunbed burn treatment. It’s just not something everybody thinks about but drinking plenty of water helps your body and skin to stay hydrated, which speeds up the healing process.

  • Painkillers

If you’re suffering with pain then you can take painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to lessen the effects. Of course you should always follow the instructions to any medication you may take.

Home Remedies For Sunbed Burns Relief

Peeling and blisters are both part of the body’s natural healing mechanism but the process can be slow, and meanwhile the peeling and blisters can act as irritants. You must be careful not to forcefully pull off the flaky skin or burst the blisters as they can cause additional pain, and can even cause infection and scarring.

Applying cucumber or tomato slices over the peeling or blistered area can help to soothe the skin so it can continue to heal gently. Another tip is to soak a flannel in cold milk and apply it directly over the area.

See A Doctor

While it’s okay to treat mild burns using any of the above home remedies, you must get proper medical treatment if your burns are more severe and accompanied by large blisters or if you have a fever.

How To Avoid Sunbed Burns

Ideally, you should take all precautions to avoid sunbed burns instead of having to resort to treating them.

These few tips will help you avoid getting burnt during your next visit to the tanning salon.

  • Only visit a reputable, licensed salon – Because skin cancer and complications from sunbed burns are more and more prevalent, make sure the salon is not only reputable, but licensed to use such equipment. Unlicensed salons are more likely to have unqualified personnel operating the equipment, increasing the risk of getting burned.
  • Use a sun screen – Yes, you still need to use a sun screen when using a sunbed to get a tan. Though some people may opt to use an SPF with a lower number, sun screen is always advisable when trying to get a tan, especially with a sunbed.
  • Do your homework – Read up on what happens during a tanning session and what are the safe practices associated with it. When you book a session, ask questions so you are aware of all the risks involved and know what to do in case something goes wrong.
  • Follow the aftercare instructions faithfully – After your tanning session on a sunbed, you will be given instructions about what to do and what not to go based on your skin type. Following these instructions is important.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure during the days following a tanning session- Your skin has been subjected to direct heat during the tanning session. Now you need to give it the time it needs to cool down. If you expose your skin to direct sunlight prematurely, you could suffer delayed sunburn injuries, which can be just as painful.
  • Apply cooling after-sun lotion regularly – This will help keep the skin soft and speed up the healing process.

Sunbed burns can be treated but you shouldn’t have to go through the pain. It’s far better to take appropriate measures to prevent sunbed burns altogether.

If you have received sunbed burns because of the negligence of a tanning salon you may have a claim for compensation for which you can find more information here.

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  • Sherry Perry

    I have been tanning at the same place for almost a year every day I haven’t been for about 4 weeks then I went The day before yesterday then I went yesterday and I got totally burnt face swelled up this morning what can I do to help it I have never burned before always stayed in there the same amount of time

  • Sandra clark

    I hired a sunbed I went on it but had to get off and on as we have a parrot the noise was bugging after getting off and on I forgot how long in total I had been on it when I looked from my neck down is red raw a bit swollen and it feels tight at the top of my legs it frightened me getting a bit cooler now but still red and a bit swollen

  • Chris Mongan

    I been to my first sunbed ever on the 25th of may 2021 and the lady who I was speaking to advised me that I do 5 mins for first time as my skin is fair. She said I could come back every 2 days if I wanted so I came on the 27th and because I was a new customer I had a free some bed available. I told her I only had one session prior which was 2 days before, and she said I could do 14 mins if I liked. I said 10 mins would be fine but she said 14 would be okay so foolishly I went with it. That night when I came home my body got really hot and we I looked in the mirror I couldn’t believe how red my body was. It’s now the 2nd of June and I’ve been in agony everyday and night. My whole body from neck to ankles are completely covered in blisters and peeling skin all over it feels horrible and looks worst. I don’t know what to do!

    • Sandra clark

      I stayed on the sunbed a bit too long and went very red and my skin went tight at the top of my legs

  • Libertyy

    I went on for 12 minutes yesterday. My bum and back of my legs is the main area where I’m red raw. I feel the heat coming from my skin and it is so painful I feel so embarrassed I just want it to go down. How long is this going to take ? 😫 I don’t want to be out of from sunbeds because I want a nice brown tan but how long should I leave it ?

    • Sandra clark

      I would leave it till the redness goes it really frightened me from my neck down red Raw the tops of my legs went right and it was a bit swollen

    • Heatherlpage

      Hello it should subside in 2/4 days that’s when I take messsures to sorta protect my bum and back of legs for a couple sessions after I get a 15/20 sunblock and put it there for those couple sessions and then go as normal

  • Recently went on sun bed first one was six mins the second was 9 mins after the second one I’m burnt red raw over my stomach legs bum behind my knees so painful it was new salon it stated beds had been re done but never been burnt by one even when done longer stay in other places didn’t sign anything and no advise given just told first one was allowed 6 mins

  • Sabrina

    I have used the sunbeds for 9 minutes 2 days ago and noticed a small irritating rash at the bottom of my shoulder blades it sometimes stings and feels constant burning I’ve tried cucumber and a cold rag lol

  • I got a bad second degree burn on my face last year from tanning beds. the blisters went away however i can’t be in any direct sunlight or use anything that has UV rays because my skin (in the area where it burned) flares into cystic acne like. Why hasn’t it healed after an entire year?? will i ever get to tan again?
    ive also went to the doctors and all they did was prescribe me antibiotics, didn’t help.

    • Sorry to hear about the burns to your face. I don’t know the circumstances and we are not in the US but I would make another appointment with the doctor and explain the antibiotics haven’t helped and they might give you different ones. All the best.

  • I was using sun beds 12mins a time for 3 days and did not burn then a week later I had a stand up 15min one and the woman failed to tell me that bed is a lot stronger than the others I am ginger and after I have really bad burns been sick dizzy shivering and 4 days later my skin is still itchy nice one to the woman behind the desk she was also the most pale tanning woman I’ve ever seen #fuming #after sun

    • Hi Ben, you could always call us to speak with a solicitor and see whether you might have a claim or not, it’s entirely up to you. I hope you get well soon.

  • Jadie critchell

    I had a sunbed for 5 mins and used one of the creams and I’ve burnt quite bad I’m very sore, also the sun beds were so dirty like they looked like they don’t get cleaned

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