6 Ways to Soothe Sunburns Naturally
This past week I went to Texas on one of the beaches (yes, there are some beaches in Texas), and after being so pale after winter I got super burned. I rarely get sun burned but since I have moved to a cooler climate my body isn’t used to having direct sunlight again. So if you slip up like me and get a sunburn, you can use natural remedies to help your skin heal quickly and prevent further complications, like peeling and blistering.
1. Take a Cool Bath
Soaking in lukewarm water for no longer than 15-20 minutes can help take the sting out of your sunburn. To make it even more soothing, you can add a few tablespoons of baking soda to the water, or one cup of oatmeal. Black or green teabags added to the bathwater can also be soothing—add when water is warm then allow to cool before getting into the bathtub. When you get out of the tub, allow your skin to air dry and avoid rubbing with a towel, which can irritate skin further. In between cool baths, apply cool compresses to the affected skin as needed. I made the mistake of rubbing with a towel and began to peel. Try using some organic shampoo because it will cause less pain to the burn.
Apply lotion with vitamin C and E or aloe vera to the burned area frequently, which can both soothe irritation and reduce the risk of peeled skin and painful blisters. (For especially bad sunburns, you might need to try over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream). Itching or soreness resulting from the sunburn can be treated with calamine lotion. Aloe vera works wonders though, this is my go-to for sunburns. If you have an aloe vera plant, you can break open the leaves and apply the resulting gel directly to the burn.
Your sunburn will heal more quickly and complications can be avoided if you remain completely hydrated. Drink plenty of water and other clear liquids, and stay out of the sun until your burn is completely healed. This can also help prevent dehydration, which is a common side effect of sunburn. Avoid drinking alcohol, which can dry your skin out further.
4. Rub Potatoes on the Burn
As I did more research I found potatoes have a soothing property that can help your skin feel better after a sunburn. Mash clean potatoes in a blender and apply the resulting mash to your skin, either alone or with gauze pads. Change the dressing each hour—this method can be used several times a day until the burn resolves.
Another food remedy is cold fat free milk. Mix one cup of milk with four cups cold water and make a compress that can be applied for 15 to 20 minutes. You can also boil lettuce leaves, then chill the resulting liquid and apply it to your skin with cotton balls. Plain yogurt applied to sunburned areas is also soothing. Or, sometimes its just nice to eat something like a snow cone when you’re burning up.
5. Bandage Blisters
Small blisters can typically be left alone, but protecting them with a loose bandage can keep them from breaking open. Large blisters may need to be lanced—do so only with a clean needle that’s been sterilized. Make a small puncture in the blistered skin and allow the fluid to drain out.
6. Soothe Chafing with Cornstarch
Since most sunburns affect hard to reach areas where you may have forgotten to apply sunscreen, these sensitive areas are subject to chafing when rubbed with clothing or other skin. Avoid this painful side effect by applying cornstarch powder to the affected areas, which can soothe the rubbing sensation. Never use petroleum jelly, which can irritate the burn and cause blistering.
If you take these self-care steps and your sunburn does not seem to improve, see a doctor. You should also seek medical attention right away if you develop large blisters, a high fever, confusion, nausea, chills, increased pain or swelling, or yellow drainage or red streaks from blisters.
Images via shutterstock.
Summer is also a time for more allergies. Listen to this Green Divas Health & Beauty podcast segment to learn about an unexpected allergy remedy.