The sun, tanning lights, or any other source of ultraviolet light can cause a sunburn, or reddened, tender skin. The symptoms of sunburn may not occur immediately; it can take up to five hours for sunburn to appear. If not treated immediately, the burn can lead to peeling or blistering skin.
Home Remedies for Sunburn
Prevention is better than the cure, especially as the accompanying skin damage is permanent, but there are several treatments available to encourage healing, prevent infection, and relieve sunburn pain. Here are 12 home remedies for sunburn.
Warning: The sunburn home remedies below have not been sufficiently scientifically verified, and should not replace scientific medical treatment. Additional home remedies not listed below may actually delay healing or encourage infection. So, use these remedies at your own risk. Avoid peanut butter, petroleum jelly, and vinegar in particular.
1. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has excellent anti-inflammatory properties that can help you deal with sunburn.
- Extract the gel from a section of an aloe vera leaf.
- Put the gel in the refrigerator for half an hour.
- Apply a light coating of the chilled gel on the sunburned skin.
- Allow it to dry on its own so the skin can fully absorb the medicinal properties.
- Do this five or six times daily for several days.
If you do not have an aloe vera plant, you can buy aloe vera gel from the market.
2. Cool Bath
Have a cool bath or gentle shower for sunburn pain relief. Keep the water just below lukewarm (cool, but not tooth-chattering) and relax for 10-20 minutes.
- If showering, use a gentle stream of water, not a full blast, to avoid irritating your skin. Air dry or pat gently with a towel to avoid abrading the skin.
- If you have blisters forming on your skin, take a bath instead of showering. The pressure from the shower might pop your blisters.
- Avoid using soap, bath oils, or other detergents as you bathe or shower. Any such products can irritate your skin and possibly make the effects of the sunburn feel even worse.
3. Black Tea
Black tea is full of antioxidants that are very beneficial for treating sunburn. Tea has tannins that help protect the skin from UV radiation damage and reduce inflammation. It also aids in restoring the skin’s pH balance.
- Brew 3-4 teabags in a pitcher of warm water. When the tea is almost black, remove the teabags and let the liquid cool to room temp.
- Gently dab at the sunburn with a cloth soaked in the tea, the more the better. Do not wash it off. If the cloth causes pain, dab at the burn with the teabags instead.
- Try to do this at bedtime and leave it on overnight.
- Be aware that the tea can stain clothing and sheets.
Live cultured plain yogurt contains an abundance of probiotics and enzymes that help heal our skin. A half cup of plain yogurt should be sufficient to treat facial burns at least, but feel free to use more if you want to cover more area.
- Wash your hands and apply cool yogurt directly to your burn, and let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
- When the pain has subsided, gently rinse it off with cool or tepid water.
Make sure it’s truly plain yogurt, not vanilla, and that it has probiotics.
5. Cold Compress
To relieve sunburn pain, you can apply cold compresses on the affected area. Cold compresses cause the tiny blood vessels to constrict, which in turn will reduce inflammation.
- Wrap a handful of ice cubes in a damp cloth.
- Hold the compress over the affected area as long as it is cool.
- Apply several times a day as needed to relieve discomfort.
Never apply cold compresses directly on the skin as it can damage your skin.
Raw potato is excellent for treating sunburn as the natural starches found in potatoes will help draw heat out of your skin. It’s a time-tested technique known throughout the world.
- Take two washed potatoes, cut them into small chunks, and place them in a blender or food processor. Blend or process until the potatoes are in liquid form. Add water if they look dry.
- Pat the burned areas with the pulverized potatoes. Wait until the potatoes dry, then take a cool shower.
The fat, protein and pH in milk have a soothing, anti-inflammatory effect on skin that can give you sunburn pain relief.
- Mix a cup of skim milk with four cups of water. Add some ice cubes to the mixture.
- Dip a clean cloth in the solution and apply it to the sunburned area for half an hour.
- Then, gently pat dry your skin with a soft towel.
- Repeat the process every four hours for a few days until the pain and irritation subside.
The cold temperature will constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling, while the milk will create a protein film that helps relieve sunburn pain.
8. Cucumber Pulp and Juice
Everyday use of cucumber helps you treat sunburn. It makes your skin soft and supple as well as clean.
- Grate one cucumber and extract the juice.Preserve the juice in refrigerator.
- Thengrind the remaining cucumber to paste and apply the paste on your burnt skin.
- Leave it for 15-20 minutes and then wash it off with plain cold water.
- Apply cucumber juice on your skin as astringent 2-3 times daily.
9. Egg Oil (Oleova)
Egg oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexanoic acid. It also contains immunoglobulins, xanthophylls (lutein & zeaxanthin) and cholesterol. The omega-3 fatty acids in egg oil are bound to phospholipids which have the ability to form liposomes (nanoparticles), which may be able to penetrate deep and heal the dermis.
- Massage the damaged skin with egg oil twice a day. Gently massage the area including the surrounding one inch periphery for ten minutes during each of two daily sessions.
- Leave it on for at least an hour, avoiding exposure to direct sunlight.
- Wash off with a mild, pH neutral body wash. Avoid soap or any other alkaline substances.
- Repeat twice a day until the skin is restored to its pre-burn condition.
10. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is loaded with skin nourishing fatty acids, it works as an excellent home remedy for sunburn.
The vitamin E present in coconut oil works as an antioxidant, which helps decrease inflammation caused by sunburn. Because coconut oil is very light, it also is absorbed quickly by the skin and can provide results within a few days.
- Slightly warm extra-virgin coconut oil in a microwave.
- Rub some of the oil on the sunburned area and gently massage it.
- Do this three times daily for several days to promote healing.
As the sun fried your skin, it also dehydrated it. Be sure to replenish liquids by drinking plenty of water while recovering from a sunburn. Being well hydrated will help burns heal better. You’ll know you’re hydrated when your urine runs almost clear.
12. Baking Soda
Baking soda can be very soothing on sunburned skin due to its alkaline nature. Plus, it has antiseptic properties that will relieve the itchy sensation associated with sunburn.
- Fill your bathtub with cold water, add one cup of baking soda and stir well.
- Soak in the water for about 15 minutes.
- After getting out of the bath, pat dry or allow your body to air dry.
- Do this once daily until you get positive results.
Medical Attention for Sunburn
Watch for signs of infection. If you’re experiencing the following symptoms, especially around a blister, your skin might be infected. Medical attention is vitally important.
- Increased pain, swelling, redness, or warmth around the blister
- Red streaks extending away from the blister
- Drainage of pus from the blister
- Swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpit, or groin
Call a doctor if you have signs of heatstroke or dehydration. If you’re experiencing the following symptoms in relation to your sunburn, visit a doctor as soon as you can. If any of these symptoms are debilitating, call an emergency number rather than waiting for an appointment.
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Feeling weak
- Nausea, fever, chills, or rash
- Extreme thirst, no urine output, or sunken eyes
- Your eyes hurt and are sensitive to light
- Rapid pulse or rapid breathing
- Pale, clammy, or cool skin
- Severe, painful blisters, especially more than 1/2 inch wide
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Protect yourself. The best way to avoid sunburn is prevention.
- Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wear proper clothing that covers your skin as well as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Apply an effective sunscreen to exposed skin areas several times a day.