What if I told you that you potentially have 8 sunburn remedies in your pantry and/or medicine cabinet right now? That’s right. Simmer down, lobster friend.
Soothing Oat-Milk Bath
Oatmeal also has great anti-inflammatory properties to calm irritated, inflamed skin. While milk can calm the heat from the sunburn, the proteins also work to reduce inflammation and soothe the skin. The combination of oat-milk and lukewarm water will help reduce pain and inflammation.
The keys to achieving the most soothing results of an oatmeal bath are quite simple. Start by gathering the necessary ingredients:
- Tepid water
- 2 cups uncooked oats (regular or instant)
- 3 cups whole or skim milk (we suggest trying buttermilk if you have it!)
First, draw your bath using only lukewarm water. Next, you’ll want to finely ground down the oats using a food processor or a blender. Combine the pulverized oats with the milk. When your water is ready, pour in the oat-milk mixture evenly throughout. Soak for 15-20 minutes. Rinse with cool water and pat dry. Rubbing your skin will cause further irritation.
Pro-tip: for a more intense relief, opt for a cooler water temperature. The warmer the water, the more heat gets trapped in your skin.
The Iced-Tea Method
Okay, so not literal iced-tea and not to be confused with actor/rapper Ice-T either. This is a 1-2 punch remedy combo that you never saw coming. After a long day in the sun you’ll want to get clean (obviously), but first we suggest that you ice your sunburn like you iced your ankle after that embarrassing time you sprained it doing something 100% non-athletic.
First, cold compress.
Icing your sunburn will absorb some of the heat and reduce some swelling by constricting your blood vessels. There are two suggested methods for this:
- Wrap ice in in a damp cloth over your burn.
- Pour ice and water into a bowl. Soak a cloth and place it over your problem areas.
Pro-tip: Applying ice directly to the skin can further irritation. You’ll want to choose a smooth cloth as a barrier.
Now for the tea portion of the “Iced-Tea Method.”
Black tea is high in antioxidants that help to heal skin. The properties in black tea treat irritated skin and reduce inflammation including sunburn. After icing, soothe your sunburn following these three easy steps!
- Brew two or three bags of tea.
- Let sit until it cools to room temperature.
- Take a cloth and soak it in the tea and tap it on the affected areas.
You’ll want to repeat this 3-4 times a day until the sunburn improves. Another way you can heal sunburn with tea is with a nice tea bath. Just pour the brewed tea in cool bathwater and soak for about 30 minutes.
Pro-tip: Alternating between cold compress and black tea soaking will tackle swelling and irritation. Also, the properties in black tea can be particularly helpful if you’re burned around your sensitive eye area. For this treatment, soak two tea bags in cool water and place them on top of closed eyes to decrease swelling and help relieve pain.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Not to say that Aloe Vera isn’t a great topical sunburn treatment, but there are many sunburn remedies that can easily replace it! My go-to is the household hero: apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar helps maintain the skin’s pH levels which can help reduce peeling and blisters. It is naturally antimicrobial, antiseptic, and anti-fungal, making it a wonderful addition that can help prevent infection in damaged skin tissue. In order to maximize desired results, follow these steps:
- Add one cup of apple cider vinegar to a bath full of lukewarm water and soak for half an hour.
- Do this daily until the sunburn has diminished.
Additionally, apple cider vinegar can alleviate a sunburn by using this method:
- Mixing equal parts of vinegar and water.
- Next, soak a paper in the solution and place on the affected areas.
- Leave the paper towel on the area until it is dry.
Pro-tip: Apple cider vinegar can also be replaced with white vinegar. For best results, dab the liquid directly on your skin. This can relieve pain for up to 20 minutes, if your burn isn’t already blistering.
Coconut oil is packed with fatty acids that moisturize and heal the skin. The vitamin E in coconut oil is a powerful antioxidant that greatly reduces inflammation. You can easily apply it to your skin and let it soak up its benefits. Since coconut oil usually comes in a solid form, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Scoop out as much as you need and warm it in the microwave until it liquefies.
- Use a cotton ball or your fingers to gently rub it on the irritated skin.
- Repeat this process three times daily.
Pro-tip: Do not apply coconut oil to a fresh burn, otherwise, you might trap in heat. You’ll want to only use cold-pressed, organic coconut oil and apply it after blistering has subsided. Coconut oil is also notorious for clogging pores, so use sparingly on your face.
Bonus Pro-tip: If you’re not huge on coconut oil, you can revert back to the ever reliable Aloe Vera.
Red tomatoes help protect the skin from sunburn and skin aging caused by sunlight exposure thanks to the ingredient lycopene – the natural pigment that gives this fruit its red color. Tomatoes also help hydrate and reduce the inflammatory response of your burnt skin. There are 3 basic techniques to obtain the best results:
- Puree a tomato and apply it directly to the burnt area. (Frozen tomato paste provides a more intense relief to irritated areas).
- Eating tomatoes can also help prevent future sun damage.
Pro-tip: Not a fan of tomatoes? Never fear. Carrots can act as a substitute! Although it is a bit tougher to make carrot juice, a daily does of carrots can lead to a reduced reaction to the sun’s rays.
This fruit works just like tomatoes. Pomegranates are a rich source of ellagic acid, which can help protect your skin from cell damage caused by UVA- and UVB- rays. For best results, try eating the fruit 2-3 times per week.
Pro-tip: All fruits, in general, have amazing effects on your overall health. Try stepping outside of the box and exploring some exotic fruits like persimmons, a sweet, golden delicious fruit that are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!
As if you needed another reason to eat chocolate, right? Well, here it is! Ingesting dark chocolate helps your body fight skin cancer. Chocolate is just the latest in a range of antioxidant-rich foods that shield skin from sun damage, so indulge and enjoy!
The Bottom Line
Now that we know how to relieve sunburns, let’s talk about the facts:
- Mild Sunburns: last 3-5 days, usually come with redness and some pain, and you may peel a bit toward the last couple of days.
- Moderate Sunburns: last 7-10 days, much more painful, and your skin may peel for a few more days.
- Severe Sunburns: can take up to 2-3 weeks to fully recover, some require doctors visits, and your skin will blister and be very red. If you don’t need to see a doctor. Stay home and rest for a couple of days.
Wearing protective clothing and eyewear, using sunscreen properly, and staying hydrated are the the easiest ways to protect yourself from the sun. For more information on how to protect yourself against the sun, visit the Skin Cancer Prevention Foundation’s website. Summer is coming my friends, be prepared!