Spending 15-20 minutes a day in the sun is one of the easiest ways to get the vitamin D that your body needs. I enjoy the healing benefits of the sun and there is no place I would rather be than outside in the clean fresh air. To that end, I tend to overdo my time outside especially when working in the garden in the spring and early summer and before I know it, I am a little lobster red. So here are a few simple home remedies that I have used for sunburn relief over the years.
When the skin is inflamed following a burn, cool it down with a compress. This is great for smaller areas, such as sunburned arms, or shoulders. (If you have an all over sunburn read the Kitchen Pantry and In the Tub).
Apple Cider Vinegar– Dip a soft cloth in a bowl of undiluted, distilled apple cider vinegar and apply to sunburned area. This provides relief from the pain of sunburn, and keeps the skin from peeling. If this stings, due to broken skin, cuts or scratches, you can dilute the apple cider vinegar in water before applying or try another method listed. Cider vinegar also prevents swelling of the burned area and the formation of blisters.
Cool Water-Dip a soft cloth in cool or cold water and lay it over the burn. Repeat every few minutes as the cloth warms. Apply several times a day for 10-15 minutes at a time.
Witch Hazel-This wonderful astringent is available at most drugstores. Witch Hazel offers long lasting anti-inflammatory relief. Apply often to provide temporary relief.
You could also put these in a clean spray bottle to spray on the sunburned areas as needed.
Kitchen Pantry to the Rescue
Most likely you have everything you need in your kitchen pantry or refrigerator to provide soothing relief for your sunburn.
Aloe Vera-Frequently used for sunburns. You can use the gel of an aloe leaf or buy aloe gel at the grocery store. If you are buying bottled Aloe look for 99.9% pure aloe gel. Aloe relieves pain and helps to moisturize the skin and is a wonderful aid in the healing process. Apply as often as needed.
Apple Cider Vinegar– Dip a cotton ball in a bowl of undiluted, distilled apple cider vinegar and apply to sunburned area. The cider vinegar disinfects and soothes the skin, it also reduces pain and promotes healing. If this stings, due to broken skin, cuts or scratches, you can dilute the apple cider vinegar in water before applying or try another method listed.
Cornstarch: Add enough water to cornstarch to make a paste. Apply directly to sunburned area. Rinse off in a cool shower and pat skin dry.
Fat Free Milk: Mix 1 cup of milk with 4 cups of cold water, dip a soft cloth in the liquid and apply compress to the affected area for 15-20 minutes. Repeat every 2-4 hours.
Green Tea: Brew a large pot of tea, using 6 tea bags. Remove bags and allow liquid to cool. Dip a soft cloth in cool tea and lay it over the burn. Repeat every few minutes as the cloth warms. Apply several times a day for 10-15 minutes at a time.
Lettuce Leaves: Boil one quarter of a head of lettuce leaves in water for about ten minutes. Allow to steep, till you get a nice color to the water. Strain. Compost leaves. Pour liquid into bowl and cool in refrigerator. Dip soft cloth in liquid and lay on sunburn till cloth warms and repeat. You can also dip cotton balls into liquid and apply to skin.
Oatmeal: Wrap dry oatmeal in cheesecloth or gauze. Run it under cool water. Discard the oatmeal and then soak compress in liquid. Apply every 2-4 hours.
Sour Cream: Gently apply plain sour cream to all sunburned area, leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse sour cream off skin and pat dry. Reapply as often as needed.
Tea bags: Soak tea bags in cool water, and apply to sunburned eyelids. This helps to decrease any swelling.
Plain Yogurt: Gently apply plain yogurt to all sunburned area, leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse yogurt off skin and pat dry. Reapply as often as needed.
Yogurt Plus: One cup plain yogurt, puncture 3 vitamin e capsules and add oil to yogurt along with one and a half tablespoons of pure aloe. Apply yogurt to all sunburned area, leave on for 30 minutes. Rinse yogurt off skin and pat dry. Reapply as often as needed.
In The Tub
Soap irritates and dries your sun burned skin; this includes bubble baths as well. Consider soaking in plain cool water, if you have an all over sunburn. Add more cool water to your tub as needed. Be sure to pat yourself dry after your bath or cool shower. Rubbing the skin will cause further irritation.
Consider some additives to your bath to help reduce itching, pain and inflammation.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Mix 1-2 cups cup of apple cider vinegar into a tub of cool water, this is also a wonderful astringent that soothes sunburn pain.
Baking Soda: Sprinkle a few Tablespoons of baking soda in a cool bath and soak for 15-20 minutes. Soaking for longer than this can dry out your skin. Instead of drying yourself off; consider letting the baking soda and water dry on your skin it will continue to soothe the pain.
Fat Free Milk: Fill your tub with cool water and add a gallon of fat free milk to get relief.
Oatmeal: Pulverize oatmeal in a food processor. Add ½ -1 cup to tub of cool water and enjoy a soothing soak. Add more cool water to your tub as needed. Be sure to pat yourself dry after your bath, as rubbing will irritate your skin.
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
Sunburns can damage skin, now that you’ve cooled off, be sure to moisturize your skin. Consider chilling your lotion in the refrigerator for additional relief. Apply moisturizer multiple times a day to offer relief and hydration to your skin.
If you’ve over exposed your skin, you’ve dehydrated your skin and body as well. Step up your fluid intake to help counteract the effects of sunburn. Drink lots of pure, clean water. Being well hydrated will speed up the healing process. Coconut water is a great option for hydrating the body and replacing electrolytes. Many stores and websites carry coconut water in aseptic packs (shelf stable containers). Remember that fruits and vegetables are a wonderful way to rehydrate. Consider watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and cucumber.
Vitamins that help in repairing, building and improving the skin are Vitamins C and E, so consider consuming foods that are rich in these vitamins, such as green tea, coconut water, mineral water, citrus fruits, fish, eggs and poultry.
When to Call a Doctor
Be realistic. Some sunburns are too severe to treat at home. Call your doctor if you experience nausea, chills, fever, lightheadedness or feeling faint, extensive blistering, weakness, intense itching, or patches of purple discoloration on your skin.