Summer’s here, and that means it’s time to head outside and soak up the sun. But along with the all those hours spent outdoors during the summer season, there usually comes one inevitable thing: sunburn. Fortunately for all of us, there are plenty of household items you can use to cool the burning, itching, and peeling that come with damage from the sun.
Keep reading to learn about home remedies that can help heal and soothe your skin.
Sunburn, basically, is inflammation of the skin. One of the easiest ways to treat inflammation is to cool down the affected area. An effective way to immediately help sunburn, even while you’re still outside, is to hop in the water, whether it’s an ocean, lake, or stream. Dipping in and out throughout the day can help keep sunburn from worsening. Be wary of pools, as chlorinated water can irritate the skin more. You should also avoid directly applying ice. Although it may look appealing when your skin is burning, it could actually cause even more damage to your extra-sensitive sunburned skin.
You can also try hopping in the bath to help cool and soothe your skin.
Throwing a few heaping tablespoons of baking soda into a bathtub full of cool water and soaking for about 15 to 20 minutes helps minimize sun damage. Adding a cup of oats to the bath also soothes irritation and helps the skin retain its natural moisture.
Don’t scrub your skin, either in the bath or after getting out. Dab yourself dry with a towel — don’t rub.
If you don’t have an aloe vera plant in your house, you should get one. The gel inside this succulent plant has been used for centuries for all sorts of ailments, from upset stomachs to kidney infections. It’s also the sunburn relief most commonly found over the counter.
Breaking off a chunk of the plant and applying the gel directly to the skin provides immediate, soothing relief from the sting of minor sunburn. If you can’t get your hands on a plant, try a 100 percent aloe vera gel (not an aloe-based lotion or ointment). You can find these gels in most pharmacies.
Chamomile tea can be soothing to your spirit, but it can also soothe your sunburned skin. Brew the tea as you normally would and let it cool. When it’s ready, soak a washcloth in it and apply it to the affected area.
If you are allergic to pollen, you shouldn’t use this treatment. It may cause an allergic reaction in your skin.
Opinions are mixed about using vinegar for sunburn relief. Some say adding two cups of vinegar to cool bath water can help take the sting out of burn, while others say the high acidity in vinegar only makes things worse. If you haven’t used the treatment before on smaller, lighter sunburns, it’s best not to try it for larger, more serious burns.
As your skin is repairing itself, make sure to wear clothing that doesn’t stick to your skin. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so it’s best to give it some room to breathe as it heals from a major traumatic episode like sunburn. Natural fibers, such as cotton or bamboo, make for the best post-sunburn coverings.
As your skin is battling the damage from the sun’s rays, it needs moisture that it lost during your time out in the sun. If you aren’t already drinking your eight glasses of water a day, a nasty sunburn should be reason enough to get you to start doing so.
After the initial treatment, you skin will still need some tender loving care. One of the most important things you can do to prevent skin from peeling — or at least keep it to a minimum — is to regularly apply moisturizer to the affected areas. Use scent- and dye-free moisturizer (marketed for “sensitive skin”) to keep skin irritation to a minimum.
Stay hydrated, keep cool, and if the sunburn is too painful, you can take some ibuprofen. You should also make sure you stay covered up next time you go outside so your sunburn isn’t exposed to even more sun. Call a doctor if a sunburn causes you to have a fever or if you are showing signs of dehydration.
And remember, the easiest way to treat sunburn is to avoid it.