Sunburn is the bane of summertime, thwarting tans and forcing people to cover up. It can happen at any time of the year though, because it is the exposer to the ultra-violet rays of the sun that cause it. When you’re getting bombarded with UV light, your exposed skin ups its production of melanin.
Melanin is the dark pigment in the top layer of your skin (the epidermis) that gives it its color, and also determines how tan you can get. Upping the production of melanin is the bodies’ way of protecting the deeper layers of the skin, and the tan acts as a shield against UV light. However, the amount of melanin produced to protect you is determined by genetics (so people with fair skin produce less melanin and are more likely to burn) and all in all you end up with a natural shield equal to around SPF 4.
The best thing to do is prevent sunburn, but even when you do try to protect yourself, you may end up burned anyways. To avoid peeling and get rid of the redness and stinging here are tips and home remedies for sunburn that are simple, fast, and effective.
Potatoes have been known as a pain reliever throughout the years, working particularly well on minor skin irritations and soothing scratches, bites, and burns, as well as possibly reducing inflammation.
- Wash and scrub your potatoes thoroughly, and then either grate them over a bowl or cut them up and put them in a blender.
- If they seem too dry, you can add a small amount of water.
- Pour out the mixture, soak cotton balls thoroughly in it, and apply to sunburn
- Wash off after 30 minutes and pat dry.
Cool Milk Compress –
A cool milk compress is one of the quickest, simplest and low-cost ways to treat sunburn. The initial coolness of the milk will ease the heat, while it also creates a layer of protein to protect your skin, help it heal, and further soothe discomfort.
- Pour a bowl of milk high enough so that you can thoroughly soak your compress in it.
- When the gauze or washcloth is saturated, let the excess liquid drain off.
- Drape across your burn, pressing gently so that it stays in place, and leave it on for as long as needed.
- If the milk in the bowl becomes room temperature chill it before re-dunking your compress.
Baking Soda –
Baking soda can be very soothing on sunburned skin due to its alkaline nature. Plus, it has antiseptic properties that will relieve the itchy sensation associated with sunburn.
- Mix four tablespoons of baking soda with enough water to make a paste.
- Apply the paste directly on the affected skin using a cotton ball.
- Leave it on for 10 minutes and then wash it off with cold water.
- Follow this remedy once or twice a day for several days depending upon the severity of your condition.
The tannic acid and theobromine found in green tea also helps relieve pain and heal damaged skin when applied topically.
- Brew two or three teabags in a pot of hot water. Allow it to sit for a few minutes.
- Remove the teabags and let the liquid cool to room temperature.
- Soak a cloth in the solution and dab it on the affected skin.
- Leave it on until it dries complete and reapply three or four times, as necessary; you need not wash it off.
- Do this daily for a few days until your condition improves.
Aloe vera –
Aloe vera has excellent anti-inflammatory properties that help deal with the various symptoms of sunburn. Plus, it has soothing properties that can ease the pain associated with sunburn.
- Extract the gel from a section of an aloe vera leaf.
- Put the gel in the refrigerator for half an hour.
- Apply a light coating of the chilled gel on the sunburned skin.
- Allow it to dry on its own so the skin can fully absorb the medicinal properties.
- Do this five or six times daily for several days.
Apple cider vinegar –
A great astringent, apple cider vinegar can soothe sunburn pain and also speed up the healing process. Also, the acetic acid present in apple cider vinegar helps ease itching and inflammation.
- Add one cup of apple cider vinegar to your bathtub filled with lukewarm water. Soak in this water for about half an hour. This will help balance the pH level of sunburned skin and promote healing. Follow this remedy once daily as needed.
- Mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and cool water. Soak paper towels in the solution and place them over the affected skin area. Leave them on until the towels are dry. Repeat several times a day for a few days until your condition improves.
Coconut Oil –
Since coconut oil is loaded with skin nourishing fatty acids, it works an excellent moisturizer to reduce the symptoms of sunburn.
The vitamin E present in coconut oil works as an antioxidant, which helps decrease inflammation caused by sunburn. Because coconut oil is very light, it also is absorbed quickly by the skin and can provide results within a few days.
- Slightly warm coconut oil in a microwave.
- Liberally rub some of the oil on the sunburned area and gently massage it.
- Do this three times daily for several days to promote healing.
Honey works as a natural antibiotic and helps trap moisture in the skin, which is essential for treating sunburn. Plus, an enzyme present in honey helps repair damaged skin. Honey also decreases inflammation and swelling associated with sunburn.
- Apply a thin layer of natural honey on the affected skin and allow it to dry on its own. As the moisture in the honey is absorbed into the skin, it will speed up healing and minimize pain. Apply honey two or three times daily for a week.
- Also, eat one tablespoon of honey with a glass of lukewarm water three times a day to boost the immune system and speed up healing. In fact, you can eat honey on a regular basis to enjoy good health and glowing skin.
Curds contain an abundance of probiotics and enzymes that help heal our skin. When you find yourself red and sunburned, it can help you recover faster.
- Wash your hands and apply cool curds directly to your burn
- Let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
- When the pain has subsided, gently rinse it off with cool water.
Not only is a cool cucumber soothing to the burn simply because its cool, but its antioxidant and analgesic properties promote healing and further relief from discomfort.
- Slice up a chilled cucumber and lay the slices on your burned skin.
- Flip the slices when the first side heats up.
- For a longer lasting effect, chill 1 or 2 cucumbers and toss them in a blender to create a paste.
- Wash off after it heats up.
Sunburn is the perfect case of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That being said you’ll still get burned from time to time, no matter how diligent you are. It’s also a great example of an ailment you can treat at home, without needing a bunch of special creams. On top of that, home remedies for minor sunburns are generally easy to whip up, and usually cost little to nothing. Also, forget racing to get a tan, the long term effects just aren’t worth it. Be patient; protect yourself from harmful rays, and rest assured knowing that when you get older you’ll radiate a healthy glow that can’t be beat, no matter what color your skin is.
I’m Dr. Malini Bhat MD (Ayu); an Ayurvedic Doctor and a health blogger. Follow me on social media to get daily health tips which you can easily adapt to a healthy lifestyle.