25 Natural and Home Remedies for Sunburn Treatment

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Top 25 natural and home remedy tips to cool a sunburn!

Picture of acute sunburn
Picture of acute sunburn

  1. Place a cool compress on sunburned skin for immediate sunburn relief.
  2. Take a cool shower or bath to cool your sunburned skin. Check out these natural bath therapies to soothe sunburn pain and other symptoms.
    • Add one cup of apple cider vinegar to a bath to help balance the pH (acid or alkalinity) of sunburned skin, and promote healing.
    • Soak in an oatmeal bath. This is especially helpful for itchy sunburned skin.
    • Add some lavender or chamomile essential oil to the bath to help relieve some of the stinging and pain.
    • Add 2 cups of baking soda to the bath to help ease irritation and redness from sunburn.
    • Avoid soap or perfumes in the bath water as these can be drying on already dry and sunburned skin.
  3. Use lotions that contain aloe Vera to soothe and moisturize sunburnt skin. Some aloe products contain lidocaine, an anesthetic that can help relieve sunburn pain. Aloe Vera is also a good moisturizer for peeling skin.
  4. Hydrate: Drink lots of water, juice, or sports drinks. Your skin is dry and dehydrated. Replacing lost body fluids will help your skin heal from sunburn more quickly.
  5. Apply a cool compress containing Burow's solution (such as Domeboro Powder Packets -1 pkt in 1 pint of water) to comfort and soothe a sunburn.
  6. Topical over-the-counter (OTC) 1% hydrocortisone cream may help relieve sunburn symptoms like pain, itch, and swelling.
  7. Take OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) to help relieve sunburn pain and inflammation.
  8. Apply cool, not cold, milk with a clean cloth to your sunburned skin. The milk will create a protein film that helps ease sunburn discomfort.
  9. Like milk, yogurt applied to sunburned skin also can be soothing.
  10. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, and can help decrease inflammation caused by sunburn. Use Vitamin E oil on the skin, or take a regular dose of the supplement. Vitamin E oil also can be rubbed onto peeling skin.
  11. Apply freshly brewed tea after it has cooled to sunburnt skin using a clean cloth. The tannic acid in black tea reportedly helps draw heat from sunburned skin, and also aids in restoring the pH balance. Add mint to the tea for a more cooling effect.
  12. Apply teabags soaked in cold water to sunburned eyelids to soothe the burn and reduce inflammation.
  13. Cucumbers have natural antioxidant and analgesic properties. Chill cucumbers, then mash in a blender to create a paste, and apply to affected sunburned areas including the face. Cucumber also can be soothing for peeling skin following a sunburn.
  14. Boil and mash some peeled potatoes, let cool, and apply as a dressing to sunburned areas. It is believed that the starch in the potatoes helps draw out heat, which can reduce pain and speed healing.
  15. Cornstarch also can be mixed with water to form a paste that can be applied to skin to help soothe the sunburn.

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More tips to soothe and relieve a painful sunburn

Picture of blisters from second degree sunburn
Picture of blisters from second degree sunburn

  1. Witch hazel when applied to the skin can help reduce inflammation, and can help relieve sunburn.
  2. If your lips are sunburned, apply petroleum jelly or Aquaphor ointment to keep them moisturized.
  3. Essential oils such as lavender or Helichrysum can be applied in small amounts to the skin to soothe sunburn.
  4. If you feel hot from your sunburn, keep your house cool. Turn down the A/C and use fans to help blow cool air over the skin.
  5. If your skin is peeling following a bad sunburn, avoid picking at it or peeling it further.
  6. If you have blisters, this is a sign of a severe sunburn. It is best to cover them to prevent tearing and leave them alone until they heal.
  7. If you are taking any medications that make your skin more sensitive to the sun (such as tetracyclines, thiazides, sulfonamides, phenothiazines, oral contraceptives, diuretics, drugs for diabetes) contact your doctor to see if there are different medications you can take that will make you less likely to get sunburned. Do not stop taking any prescribed medication without first consulting your doctor.
  8. Once the initial sunburn has calmed down, coconut oil can be used as a skin moisturizer. Do not use coconut oil as sunscreen! Coconut oil does not provide any sun protection factor (SPF) or provide any UV protection, so you are more likely to get sunburned if you use coconut oil in place of sunblock with SPF.
  9. Go inside or in the shade, and stay out of the sun until your sunburn fades. Exposure to more sunlight will only make things worse.
  10. The best remedy against sunburn is prevention. Always use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, wear protective clothing and sunglasses, and avoid direct sun exposure.

Sunburn pictures

Following are pictures of various degrees of sunburn.

Picture of peeling skin from sunburn
Picture of peeling skin from sunburn

Picture of blisters from second degree sunburn
Picture of blisters from second degree sunburn

REFERENCES:

Ansdell, V. E., et al. "The Pre-Travel Consultation." Yellow Book; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Chapter 2. Updated July 10, 2015.<http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/the-pre-travel-consultation/sun-exposure>

Victoria State Government. "Sunburn." Updated April 2006.
<https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/sunburn>


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Reviewed on 6/9/2016

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