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What to do if you sunburn your genitals

The weekend saw record temperatures across the UK, as we all roasted to a crisp – with the hot weather set to continue for parts of this week.

As we’re sure you know, sunscreen is key to protecting your skin (especially in the kind of scorching sun we’ve got right now) but let’s face it, sometimes we forget to slather ourself in SPF.

Getting a little sunburnt on your shoulders, back or nose usually isn’t a big deal – but what if it’s in a more delicate area?

We are of course referring to your genitals.

Did you go commando in the garden or on a nude beach this weekend and forget to put sunscreen on your penis or vagina?

Do you now want to lie down and cry because of the pain to your nether regions?

We get it. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered.

We asked Dr Sarah Walsh, who works as a gynaecologist and is also the founder of Hanx condoms, to tell us how to treat genital sunburn, what not to do and when to see a doctor.

How to treat sunburnt genitals

Aloe vera is a heavenly product that doesn’t get enough credit – and it’s great for treating sunburns.

You can pick some up from your local supermarket, Boots, Holland & Barrett or other beauty and wellness store and it’s usually fairly affordable.

Dr Welsh says: ‘Avoid anything perfumed or heavy with chemicals, and don’t use oils or any greasy heavy creams as this won’t help matters.

‘Natural cooling creams or emollients are good. Moisturise with these regularly, such as aloe vera gels or Aveeno creams.’

Avoid sex until you’re healed up

This one should be pretty obvious, but let’s just drum it home.

Sex with sunburnt genitals will most likely only result in pain, and we don’t mean the pleasurable kind. You could also damage the skin further.

Stick to foreplay above the waist until your junk heals. If you feel tempted to let your hands wander, just think of the delicious release if you hold off for a few days.

Don’t wear tight clothing

Stick to light, breathable materials for now and let the area breathe.

And whatever you do, don’t wear jeans or other tough fabrics without underwear -the sunburn could end up in friction burn.

If you do wear underwear, Dr Welsh recommends something ‘cool and airy’.

Stay hydrated

While you should always make sure to hydrate properly, it’s particularly important if you’re badly sunburnt.

Your skin will absorb fluid from the body to the affected area, and drinking water or even sports drinks with electrolytes can help the burn heal quicker.

Dr Welsh says: ‘You can lose a lot of fluid through burns, and severe sunburn can cause this to happen, especially in delicate areas such as the genitals.

Don’t treat with ice, but do use cold water

While it might be tempting to treat sunburn by placing ice over it or a packet of frozen peas, please don’t.

Ice can cause burns, especially on the fragile skin around/on your genitals – such as the head of the penis or inside the vagina. So, no ice.

However, if your downstairs feels like it’s on fire – because of the sunburn, not due to suspicions of an STI (that’s a whole different beast) – the NHS recommends sitting or standing in cold water.

Run a bath or hop in the shower, and gently cool your genitals. You can also use a soft, damp towel.

Take painkillers if needed (in moderation)

According to the NHS, you’re fine to take paracetamol or Ibuprofen to cope with the pain of sunburns.

However, make sure to follow the guidance on the drug packet – and don’t take more than the recommended dose.

Keep your genitals away from sunlight

You’ll probably never want to put your private parts in the sun ever again, but just in case, here’s a reminder: keep your burnt genitals away from sunlight.

In fact, if you’ve never tanned your bits before, it’s best to expose them to the sun in stages as the skin on this body part will not be used to it.

When to see a doctor

Don’t put off seeing a medical professional if you’re in a lot of pain or worried about the state of your genitals.

Dr Welsh says: ‘If your sunburn goes beyond just painful skin, or you’re feeling unwell, you should see a medical professional.

‘Things to look out for include raw blistering or signs of infection (increasing redness, swelling or pus), having fevers and chills, or feeling light-headed, as these symptoms may indicate you’re dehydrated as well.’

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