Sunburns are caused by overexposure to the harsh UV rays of the sun or artificial tanning beds. This type of skin damage occurs mainly in summer, but people can get sunburns even on cloudy, cold days. Sunburn symptoms can be painful and debilitating. These symptoms may include peeling skin, dehydration, redness, and blistering. If you’re suffering from a sunburn, read on to find sunburn remedies you can use to speed up the healing process, decrease pain, and soothe irritation.
The Top 10 Sunburn Remedies For At-Home Treatment
1. Aloe Vera Gel
Most people reach for a bottle of aloe vera when they have a sunburn — and for good reason. Research shows that aloe vera contains a compound known as aloin, which helps to inhibit inflammation (1). Aloe is a thick gel that also helps to lock in moisture and may prevent peeling caused by sunburns.
Some aloe vera lotions that are designed for sunburns also contain medications like lidocaine or benzocaine to reduce pain. Use 100 percent aloe vera for the best results and apply directly to the sunburn several times per day.
2. Take A Cool Bath
Cool water can help to soothe skin irritated by sunburn. Sunburns can also cause fever that makes you feel hot and uncomfortable. A cool bath or cool shower can help your body restore its natural temperature while offering analgesic effects.
3. Cold Compress
A cool compress works just like cool bath water to help reduce pain. The cold temperatures of the water have anti-inflammatory effects that reduce swelling to decrease pain. Soak a washcloth in cold water and apply directly to the sunburn. When you’re finished, rehydrate skin by applying a creamy lotion or coconut oil.
4. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils can help to boost relaxation and some offer soothing properties that can make recovery from a sunburn a little more enjoyable. Essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin. Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or olive oil to prevent skin irritation. Lavender essential oil or chamomile oil can be added to a cool bath to help soothe skin or diffused in a diffuser to boost mental relaxation.
5. Apply Moisturizer
Gentle skincare is important after getting a sunburn. When the sun fries your skin, the skin dries out and can flake or peel. Applying a rich moisturizer can help seal in moisture and prevent the skin from drying out completely. Moisturizer with cooling ingredients like peppermint and tea tree can offer a tingling sensation that helps to relieve pain and heat at the burn site.
Slather the lotion liberally onto the sunburn. Use a hydrating cream that contains a significant amount of vitamin E to protect the skin from sun damage and speed up the healing process.
6. Take Over-The-Counter Pain Medicines
Pain relievers like ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, or naproxen can help to decrease inflammation and swelling that causes pain. Ibuprofen can also help lower your body temperature, which may become elevated with a bad sunburn. These pain relievers can help you rest and get a better nights’ sleep after sunburn.
Hydrocortisone cream can also help minimize the itching and irritation caused by a sunburn. This cream works to soothe the immune response that causes the skin to feel itchy. Apply the cream directly to the sunburn as needed throughout the day.
7. Baking Soda
Baking soda can be applied directly to the burned skin or added to a cool bath to help reduce redness and irritation. The baking soda works to decrease inflammation and can help coat skin, providing a soothing layer that reduces pain.
8. Use Milk or Yogurt
Applying a thin layer of milk or yogurt can help to soothe skin irritation. The cool temperature will help to decrease inflammation and inhibit pain receptors, giving you temporary sunburn relief.
9. Cool Skin With Cucumbers
Cucumbers are popularly used to improve the appearance of puffy eyes. That’s because puffy eyes are caused by inflammation. The cucumbers contain antioxidants that prevent sun damage and help to decrease swelling that can cause pain.
10. Soothe With Cornstarch
If you have a severe sunburn, applying a cornstarch paste may help to soothe irritation and moisturize skin. Cornstarch can also be added to a cool bath to help soothe and decrease inflammation.
Final Tips For Dealing With and Preventing Sunburns
If you forgot to wear sunscreen and are now paying the price with a painful sunburn, these natural sunburn remedies can help you feel better fast. For severe sunburns, you may want to visit a dermatologist for treatment. Blistering is a sign of second-degree burns and can cause scarring that requires special medical attention. For minor sunburns, you can use these home remedies for sunburn treatment to ease pain and speed up healing.
To prevent future sunburns, make sure to apply sunscreen every time you head outdoors. Use sunscreen with an SPF — sun protection factor — of 30 or higher. Wear protective clothing and a hat whenever possible, especially if you plan on being in the sun for hours. Long pants and long sleeve shirts that have SPF ratings can help to prevent UV rays from damaging the skin.
Excessive sun exposure has been linked to skin cancer and severe sunburns can increase the chances of developing melanoma or basal cell carcinoma. Prevent sunburns by planning ahead and protect skin health by scheduling regular check-ups with your local dermatology office — especially if you experience a bad sunburn. Always seek medical advice for severe sunburns that cause blistering.
Some people may be predisposed to sunburn. People with skin conditions such as rosacea should limit their time in the sun. If you use skincare products that contain retinoids or vitamin C, make sure to apply sunscreen and reduce sun exposure as these ingredients make the skin more sensitive to UV rays.