8 Remedies and Relief for Sunburn
No matter how many precautions we take to fight the sun's harmful UV rays, the dreaded and excruciatingly painful sunburn still occurs. Even when we know the dangers and know to regularly apply sunscreen and avoid the sun at peak times, we still get "lobster skin" sometimes.
I experienced a horrific sunburn on my back when I was twelve and abroad in Spain. The memories are still very vivid 30 years later. For the first time, I knew the feeling of sore, red skin. It felt as if my skin was on fire. The pain was unbearable. My skin was so sensitive that even putting on a T-shirt hurt. My mum had to buy a hideous, full-length, over-sized caftan style shirt/dress that hung out away from my burning, red skin. It was not a fashion piece that a 12-year-old girl wanted to wear, I can assure you. To this day, my back is so sensitive that I always avoid the sun.
You'll find several sunburn solutions in your kitchen, fridge, or garden. Having said that, there are some distinct winners for providing sunburn relief, cooling the skin, and helping to reduce any pain.
1. Cool/Lukewarm Bath or Shower
When sunburned, adding water back into the skin is important. It is preferable and recommended by dermatologists to take cool or lukewarm baths or showers rather than "hot as you can stomach" ones. Hot or warm water will only irritate the burn more and delay the healing process, in my opinion.
A natural humectant, honey locks moisture into the skin, which is important when treating sunburn. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and may be used in different ways:
- Apply honey directly to sunburn, or apply it first to some gauze and then place the gauze over the skin.
- Mix honey with some milk and apply it to the skin.
- Add honey into the bath. Or, make a poultice with oatmeal, milk, and aloe vera gel and have a bath with it. It will help add moisture back into the skin and reduce or prevent peeling.
3. Green Tea
The tannic acid in tea helps soothe the skin and draw the heat out from the sunburn. It may be applied in a variety of beneficial ways:
- Add 6-8 tea bags to your cool bath and soak in it.
- Make a large brew of strong tea (5 – 6 tea bags) and allow it to chill in the fridge. Apply by steeping towels or compresses in it and apply to the sunburn. Reapply when towels start to warm and absorb heat from the skin. Do not use your best towels as tea may stain.
- Use the cold, chilled tea in a spray bottle and spray the skin. Cooling face and body sprays are easy to make and utilize naturally cooling ingredients, including green tea.
- Pop a used tea bag (not just out of the pot, but allow it cool to room temperature) directly onto the area.
- Have some already made tea cubes in your ice cube tray? These are perfect for cooling down the skin with the added benefits of tea.
4. Raw Potatoes
It is said that applying raw starchy potato to the skin helps draw out the heat from a sunburn. It may be applied in different ways to small sunburnt areas:
- Hold a raw potato to the area for as long as possible.
- Grate the potato and apply as much of the juice as possible.
- Blend raw potatoes in a blender and squeeze out the juice through a sieve or cheesecloth. Apply the juice directly to the sunburn.
5. Aloe Vera Gel or Plant
Aloe vera will help cool the skin and reduce redness.
The natural plant is the best option. However, if you do not have this option, the gel is the next best alternative. With so many beneficial uses, you will never run out of ways to use this ingredient.
Use it alone or mixed with other sunburn relief ingredients. Cucumber and aloe vera eye gel is ideal to have in the fridge. You can also whip up some in advance for a family day out at the beach.
Cooling and moisturizing, this ingredient may be used in different ways for relieving sunburn and aiding the skin:
- Use slices of cucumber pulp directly on the skin (chilled is even better).
- Mix grated or mashed cucumber with a little milk and apply as a poultice to sunburnt skin.
- Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated and replenish lost water. Cucumber spa water is ideal if you find it difficult to drink enough water.
- The cucumber face wash is also beneficial to use on any facial sunburn and will help cool your face after a day or so.
Have you ever had sunburn?
Oatmeal prevents peeling and adds lost moisture back into the skin.
- Add a few cups of oatmeal to your cool bath and soak for 20-30 minutes.
- Make a poultice of oatmeal with a few egg whites (depending on the size of sunburn) and apply to skin. Leave on for 15 minutes before gently removing with cool water.
- Add a large quantity of milk to your bath before soaking for 30 minutes.
- Soak towels in milk and apply across sunburn.
- Reapply, if needed, when towels become room temperature or warm. Use small face clothes for small areas of sunburn.
More Sunburn Tips
- Keep a body spray of water in the fridge to use for cooling down and hydrating the skin.
- Add 1 or 2 drops of lavender or peppermint essential oil to your spray for extra healing properties.
- After the skin has cooled down and the pain has subsided, keep the skin regularly moisturized with Vitamin E Oil.
What Are People Using
These are more ingredients that people have had success with. Maybe your favorite is among them!
- Cocoa butter
- Diaper cream
- Shaving cream
- Baking soda
- Egg whites
- Witch hazel
If you have any more tips and remedies that have worked for you, please feel free to let me know in the comments section. It is always wonderful to hear about new solutions!
Reasons To Treat Sunburn
- Reduce redness
- Reduce swelling
- Prevent peeling
- Pain relief
- Cool skin and remove heat
- Moisturize skin
- Prevent blistering
It is also vital to recognize when medical attention is needed.
Be under no illusion. Severe sunburn is serious and can lead to sunstroke, sun poisoning, second or third-degree burns, premature aging, and skin cancer.
When to Seek Medical Treatment
If you experience any of the following, please be sure to see a doctor.
- Severe sunburn
- Purple blotches on skin
- Skin rashes
- Fever or high temperature (possible signs of skin poisoning)
- Chills or constant shivering (possible signs of skin poisoning)
- Burnt eyelids
- Severe pain
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Suzanne Ridgeway