It’s summertime again and everyone wants to go outside and enjoy the holidays. Yeah, nothing’s more pleasant than relaxing under the summer sun or reading your favorite book lying alongside lapping waves, but one thing that can go wrong with all this excitement is “sunburn.” It is the form of radiation burn to the skin due to exposure to the ultraviolet radiation of the sun. Sunburn can make your skin red itchy and painful, mainly if you haven’t applied any protection or moisturizer over your skin. If you have got a sunburn, don’t worry here you will find out 15 natural home remedies for sunburn that will soothe your skin immediately.
Sunlight is composed of different radiation components. The visible light is which allows us to see. The infrared radiation is in the form of heat, and finally, the ultraviolet radiation, which contains high energy, is responsible for sunburn. It also depends upon your skin color and sensitivity. People with light skin color are more vulnerable to sunburn as compared to dark-complexioned people. (1)
Table of Contents
- How Overexposure of Sunlight Damages your Skin?
- What Signs Should you Suspect in Sunburn?
- Natural Home Remedies for Sunburn
- 1. Cool Water and Cold Compresses
- 2. Baking Soda and Oatmeal
- 3. Aloe Vera
- 4. Apple Cider Vinegar
- 5. Soothe with Green Tea
- 6. Mist with Lavender Oil
- 7. Coconut Oil and Other Essential Oils
- 8. Vitamin E and C
- 9. Coat with Plain Yogurt
- 10. Honey
- 11. Witch Hazel
- 12. Wear Loose Clothing
- 13. Painkillers to Relieve Pain
- 14. Drink Lots of Water
- 15. Keep Your Skin Moisturized
- What Is the Best Way to Avoid Sunburn?
- Useful Sunburn Prevention Tips(5)
- When to See Your Doctor(5)
How Overexposure of Sunlight Damages your Skin?
The skin has natural defense mechanisms against radiation damages. When you get overexposed to UV-radiation, your skin produces a black pigment called melanin, which absorbs excessive radiation and protects your skin from injuries, which is why you look tan after exposure to sunlight. People have naturally dark complexion in Geographical areas with a hot climate as an evolutionary adaptation. So, what happens in sunburn when your body’s capacity to produce melanin is overwhelmed, and further radiation is dissipated. When melanin shield is broken, further heat damages the DNA, and ultimately, cells die, and your skin peels off. (1) (2)
Sunburn induces inflammation. Different types of cells and chemical signals are generated as danger signs of alarming your body of getting damaged. That’s why you feel hot, red, and painful. In severe cases, blisters can be formed. (3)
What Signs Should you Suspect in Sunburn?
Typically, you can feel redness and swelling of the exposed part of the skin only—also, pain and itching, which may get worse as long as you stay in the sunlight. Sometimes skin peels off, and blisters can be formed. Along with this, fever, chills of fainting can also occur due to dehydration. Skin becomes very painful to touch. Some people may feel nausea and headache too. (4) (5)
Natural Home Remedies for Sunburn
1. Cool Water and Cold Compresses
Sunburn is inflammation of the skin, and to relieve inflammation, we cool down the affected area. One immediate relief you can have at any time is to take a cool shower anywhere, even in a lake or ocean at that time. You better move out of sunlight to avoid further exposure. But beware if the pool is chlorinated because it will aggravate your itching and burning. Coldwater compresses can soothe your skin very effectively. Do not apply ice directly to your skin. Taking frequent baths will cool down your skin and relieve pain. After the shower, you can apply some moisturizer lotion to speed up the healing process. (4) (5) (6)
2. Baking Soda and Oatmeal
Adding baking soda into the water for the bath has soothing properties for the skin. Throw a few tablespoons of baking soda in cold water bathtub and allow yourself to soak in for 20 minutes. It will moisturize your skin and speed up healing from sunburn. (7)
Another useful home remedy is soaking in oats. This natural staple has got anti-inflammatory properties. Add a cup of oats in the bathtub. Soak for 15-20 minutes and then air-dry yourself. Avoid rubbing your skin after a bath because it will give no relief to inflammation. You can dab yourself with a clean towel. Apply simple moisturizer after it to retain water. (8)
3. Aloe Vera
This plant is of great worth to have in your house. Aloe vera gel has been used for centuries for a great variety of illnesses such as abdominal pain or upset, kidney infection, sunburn, and a lot more. Aloe gel is the most common sunburn remedy available over the counter everywhere. If you have this plant in your house, simply cut a chunk and mesh out its gel. Apply its gel directly over the burned area will provide immediate relief and soothing. Alternatively, you can buy it from the pharmacy. Beware if you are allergic to pollens. It might have an allergic reaction for some people. (9) (10)
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
The apple cider vinegar is an effective means to relieve pain and inflammation of sunburned skin. It contains malic acid that improves circulation and speeds up the healing process. It also helps maintain the pH of the skin, which minimizes the blistering and peeling off the skin. It also has antimicrobial, antiseptic, and antifungal properties, which makes it an excellent home remedy for infection control and healing your skin. If you don’t have it at home, grab a bottle of white vinegar. Add two cups of vinegar to a cool bath can help soothe the symptoms of sunburn. Some opinions say that high acidity might worsen the situation. For safety purposes, if you have not used it before, don’t use it for more severe burns. (11)
5. Soothe with Green Tea
Various studies suggest that green tea has antioxidant properties, and it can help prevent your skin from sunburn and cancer if you take it or apply it on your skin regularly. It is not a sunblock, but it can protect skin from damages caused by UV radiation and inflammation. Green tea has a compound called EGCG. You need 3mg per square inch for your skin. For a calculated amount, you need two brewed cups at a time. Allow them to cool down and then apply on your skin with cotton if you have a sunburn. You can also mix it with mint tea to experience the extra cooling effect. Chamomile tea also has the same results. (12)
6. Mist with Lavender Oil
A French chemist discovered lavender oil and its healing powers in the early 1900s. He was working in his lab when he accidentally burnt his hand and put it into a vat of lavender oil. The oil relieved the pain, and his burn was healed very quickly. To make a practical recipe for sunburn treatment at home, mix one tablespoon of lavender oil with two ounces of water and pour it into a mist bottle. Apply on the affected area as much as needed. Another formula is mixing one tablespoon of lavender oil with four tablespoons of aloe vera gel and mix it with one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and two vitamin E capsules. Make a paste out of it; apply to the affected area. (13)
7. Coconut Oil and Other Essential Oils
Coconut oil is beneficial for sunburn. This oil has many useful properties, which makes it a suitable home remedy for sunburned skin. It is quickly absorbed and melts easily and has a cooling effect. It can moisturize dry and taut skin, which often occurs after too much sun exposure. If you have acne issues, coconut oil might not be the best option as it feels to worsens the acne of some people. Other useful essential oils include Peppermint, lavender, and helichrysum. There are many ways you can use them. You can add them to your cool bath or mix with water and make a spray bottle to apply on the skin. Another way is to mix it with your routine oil bottle, but make sure the solute combination is matching. Gently rub on your affected areas. (14)
8. Vitamin E and C
Vit E and C have antioxidant properties that neutralize the free radicals and harmful chemicals produced when your skin is exposed to UV radiation. They will not relieve pain and inflammation but heal your skin faster and prevent them from further damage. Vit C and E are beneficial in the healing process, especially if your skin is peeling off or forming blisters. They are available in various forms. Liquid creams or lotions can be applied directly to the skin. You can take 2000mg of Vit C and 1000mg of Vit E for eight days for sunburns. This remedy will speed up the healing of your skin and decrease your chances of developing skin cancer. (15)
9. Coat with Plain Yogurt
Yogurt has incredible properties as it contains probiotics and enzymes. It can help heal your sunburn naturally. Apply unflavored yogurt directly on affected parts and leave it pasted for 10 minutes until the pain is relieved somewhat. Gently wash off and take a cold shower after it. (16)
Raw honey is famous and well known for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties for thousands of years. It has been used in the world wars for healing wounds. Besides hundreds of its uses, it effectively heals burns and blisters. Apply gently on your skin and wash it after some time with cold water for sunburns. It will provide a soothing effect and heal your skin faster. (17)
11. Witch Hazel
It is a liquid extract derived from the witch hazel plant. The oils and tannins in this extract have been shown to reduce inflammation, improved healing, and prevent free radicals. Apply witch hazel to your sunburn to get relief from pain and itching. (18)
12. Wear Loose Clothing
Make sure to wear loose and comfortable clothing made of cotton or other natural fabric, which is airy and light. As your skin is healing from trauma like sunburn, it needs some space. Do not wear tight clothing as it will further irritate and induce friction, which will cause pain, inflammation, and hinder the healing process. (5)
13. Painkillers to Relieve Pain
Take painkiller: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen) and aspirin decrease redness and pain. This will not only reduce the pain but also help to heal because it limits the inflammatory process going on. (4) (6)
14. Drink Lots of Water
There is insensible water loss from your skin all the time, and when you spend more time is sunlight, it dehydrates your body and skin. You need to drink more water to combat this situation. Drink more water in the day, and keep yourself hydrated. (4) (5) (6)
15. Keep Your Skin Moisturized
After you have taken a bath, apply some moisturizer every time. If you are more at the earlier stage, it will prevent it from peeling. Use a moisturizer for sensitive skin that is scent and dye-free. Remember, your skin needs tender loving care to come out of this traumatic episode. Be gentle and take care of your skin. (4) (5)
What Is the Best Way to Avoid Sunburn?
The best way to avoid sunburn is to avoid overexposure to sunlight. If you go out, make sure to take certain precautions to avoid harmful consequences. Here are some tips to prevent sunburn:
Useful Sunburn Prevention Tips(5)
- Wear protective clothing: Whenever you go out, it’s better to wear a shirt with sleeves and long pants so that the maximum area of your skin is protected from the sun. A wide-brimmed hat will protect your scalp and neck.
- Use a natural sunscreen: Before going out, apply sunscreen as directed. Try to find natural sunscreen. You should also use it after swimming.
- Stay out of the sun from 10-2: It is the time when UV radiation is at maximum. Try to avoid exposing yourself to sunlight during this time or minimize this time of exposure.
- Be careful with certain medications: Certain medications, if you are using, make you susceptible to sunburn. Ask your pharmacist about the possible side effect of your medications and take precautions accordingly.
- Use caution with essential oils: Certain essential oils, if you use them in the sunlight, can damage your skin. For example, citrus oils can cause itching, burning, or blisters if used in sunlight. So, beware of them.
When to See Your Doctor(5)
If you are experiencing any of the following and not getting any better by above-mentioned home remedies, you should consult with your doctor:
- your skin is blistered or swollen
- your temperature is very high, and you are feeling hot shivering.
- you feel very dizzy, tired and sick
- you have muscle cramps and headache
- your baby or young child has sunburn
Sunburn in severe conditions can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be severe and may need hospitalization.
In case of sunburn, keep yourself hydrated and take frequent cool baths. Take aspirin or any other pain killer for symptomatic relief. Apply moisturizer and try some natural home remedies which are mentioned above. Keep yourself covered while going out and avoid sun exposure. If you still feeling not well or skin is blistering or peeling off, you need to see your doctor for further assessment. And remember, the best way to avoid sunburn is to cover yourself while going out.