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Natural Home Remedies for Sunburn

Outdoor activities and summer just naturally go together, but while we are enjoying ourselves we are also exposing ourselves to harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun. It’s no fun to end the day with a sunburn! Even careful applications of sunscreen won’t guarantee that we are safe from the sun’s skin-damaging rays. Some people burn more easily than others, or we may just not realize how long we’ve been out in the sunlight. Treating a sunburn quickly can help reduce the pain and tenderness, and may help reduce or prevent peeling.

What NOT To Use To Treat a Sunburn

Applying butter is an old-fashioned remedy for treating sunburn, but you should avoid using any types of oil, oil-based lotions, butter, shortening, or petroleum jelly on sunburned skin. Oils will hold heat in the skin and can increase the intensity of the burn.

Many dermatologists recommend that sunburn victims avoid OTC sunburn remedies that include “-caine” in the name. These products may actually irritate the skin even more, or cause an allergic reaction. There are many natural home remedies for sunburn relief. While not all have been proven scientifically, there is anecdotal evidence that they work. You probably already have most of these natural products in your home.

Home Remedies For Sunburn

Black tea contains tannin, which will draw the burn out of your skin. Brew a pot of tea, and add ice cubes to cool it down. You can use the cooled tea bags as compresses for small burned areas, or soak an old towel (one you don’t mind staining) in the cooled tea and lay it over larger sunburned areas. The cooled tea compress will relieve the pain of the burn, but may not prevent peeling.

For mild or moderate sunburn, spread the juice of an aloe vera leaf on the skin. The aloe vera plant is well known for its healing properties, and its healing benefits may prevent peeling, also. Many people grow aloe vera plants in their home for first-aid use! If you don’t have a green thumb, you can purchase aloe vera gels at natural food stores and some pharmacies. Aloe vera should not be used on severe sunburns; studies have shown that it may delay the healing of major wounds.

Oatmeal can soothe sunburned skin. To prepare an oatmeal bath, grind oatmeal up very finely in a blender and dissolve it in a tub of lukewarm water. Soak in the oatmeal bath for 10-15 minutes to soothe sunburned skin. Be careful getting in and out of the tub, because an oatmeal bath can be very slippery! You can also use cooked oatmeal (make it a bit on the watery side) to relieve sunburn discomfort. Apply the oatmeal to your skin (being careful not to scrub and further irritate the skin), let it dry, then shower off with lukewarm water.

Vinegar is another effective home remedy to relieve sunburn pain. Mix white vinegar with an equal amount of cool water and use a towel to make a compress, or put the mixture in a spray bottle and spritz it on sunburned skin. Be careful not to use vinegar on areas where the skin is broken.

Adding baking soda to lukewarm bathwater can relieve the discomfort of sunburned skin. You can also make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to particularly tender areas. Let the paste dry on the skin and shower off.

While you are waiting for your sunburn to heal, treat your skin gently; no scrubbing or shaving, and pat skin dry with a soft towel after bathing. Sprinkle a little powder in spots where clothing chafes the sunburned skin. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated, and take an OTC pain reliever to help relieve the discomfort.

When To See a Doctor For Sunburn

You may feel sunburned soon after coming in out of the sun, but the severity of the sunburn may not be known for several hours after exposure. Self-treatment for sunburn may reduce the amount of blistering and peeling when it is done right away.

Blistering skin indicates you have received a second-degree burn and that the tissues underneath the surface of your skin have been damaged by the sun’s rays. Seek medical help if a large portion of your body is severely sunburned and covered with large blisters.

Don’t break the blisters open; they are filled with a protective body fluid that inhibits infection. Cover the blisters with plain, dry table salt to help them dry up. Blisters that do break open and expose raw skin should be covered with gauze to prevent infection. Call your doctor if you notice long reddish streaks in the skin around the blisters; you may have a serious infection that requires medical treatment.

Other signs of a second-degree burn are chilling or fever, swelling, extreme redness, nausea, or delirium. See a doctor immediately if you feel dizzy, weak, or confused, are throwing up, or have a rapid pulse. You may be suffering from heat stroke.

This article is meant for information only, and not meant to replace your physician’s advice. If your self-treatment for sunburn doesn’t relieve your discomfort in 2 or 3 days, or if you have symptoms of second-degree burns or heat stroke, call your physician.


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Article By J. E. Davidson


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