We all know that preventing sunburn means applying and reapplying sunscreen for as long as you plan to be in the sun’s path. Not doing so can cause skin damage, advanced aging, and increase your risk of skin cancer. Still, despite your best efforts, you might end up with a sunburn now and again. Sunburn heals easily enough, but the process is almost always hot, itchy, and painful. Luckily, we’re here to teach you how to heal sunburn, naturally. Keep reading to find out how!
How to heal a sunburn, naturally:
Whether it’s missing a spot, forgetting to reapply, or failing to notice that your sunscreen has expired, nobody’s perfect when it comes to preventing sunburn. In these accidental cases, there isn’t much you can do to reverse the potential long-term damage done by ultraviolet rays, but there are a number of natural remedies to help heal the burn.
Cool, not cold, water
When it comes to sunburn, the best way to alleviate pain and discomfort is to cool it down. Even something as simple as cool water can make a huge difference to those experiencing the burn. Parents recently interviewed Dr. Alan Greene, who recommended soaking in a tepid bath or shower. Sunburnt skin is implicitly irritated, so Dr. Greene suggests that irritating it further via scrubbing, soap, bath oils, or the like, will only make matters worse.
Oatmeal, is an old-school sunburn cure that allegedly works, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michael Schreiber. He recently told Prevention that colloidal oatmeal helps reduce inflammation caused by sunburn. More importantly, oatmeal reduces the itching that occurs when sunburn starts to heal.
You can find this type of oatmeal either by looking for soothing bath treatments, but if you want a more natural cure, try grinding up plain oats in your food processor and adding them directly to the tub. After mixing the water and oatmeal thoroughly, soak in cool bath water for 15 to 20 minutes and gently pat yourself dry. When it comes to any of these solutions, the key to avoiding more irritation is going to be an excess of gentleness.
In addition to cool water, Dr. Greene also suggests using a cold compress to reduce heat and bring down swelling. You can either use an ice pack or, as my mother used to, a bag of frozen veggies wrapped in a soft towel, and apply it directly to the burn. If the compress is frozen, don’t place it directly on the skin, and don’t use it for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time, Dr. Greene told Parents.
This is perhaps one of the most well-known sunburn cures out there. There are dozens of conventional aloe-based creams, gels, and ointments on the market for healing or soothing sunburn, but the more natural thing to do would be to break off a chunk of an aloe plant and use what’s inside. You can either buy leaves individually at many grocery stores or grow your own aloe plants at home and keep them for emergencies.
According to Healthline, the gel inside an aloe leaf, chilled and applied directly to the skin, is the most effective way to soothe sunburn. You can apply aloe vera a few times a day to help heal minor sunburns, but more severe burns might require intervention by a physician.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar does have many uses when it comes to fighting inflammation and boosting the immune system, but according to MedicineNet, there is some debate as to whether or not vinegar can be used to relieve sunburn. Still, the working theory is that 1 cup of apple cider vinegar added to bathwater can help balance the pH of the afflicted skin, thereby promoting healing.
Honey is often seen as the natural remedy of all-natural remedies. Hydroscopic and antibacterial, honey has been used as a topical burn cream since the days of Ancient Egypt. According to Parents, some studies suggest that it works better than some common antibiotic creams at reducing infection, speeding up the healing process, and alleviating pain. It’s not a good remedy for children under 12 months of age, however, as accidental ingestion has been linked with botulism.
Tea isn’t just for enjoying with a side of crumpets. According to Prevention, the tannic acid found in green tea and black tea might be able to pull heat out of sunburns. Tea also contains catechins, antioxidant compounds that repair skin damage and promote healing. Chamomile tea is another fine choice and drinking it can soothe ragged nerves. To use, soak two tea bags in cool water, and then place them directly on sunburnt eyelids.