No matter how diligent we are with sunscreen and wide brim hats, sunburns still do happen. When they do, we're reminded just how awful they are — and how hard it can be to get any relief. Unless it's an extremely bad burn, it's not the type of ailment you'd take to the doctor's office, but you don't necessarily have to suffer through with no options for relief. These natural remedies for sunburns that you can do at home should help you feel better more quickly.
There are a lot of ingredients in your fridge or pantry that can help you soothe your sunburn, from cucumbers to oatmeal or apple cider vinegar. Each of these remedies most of us find at home or you can easily pick up from a health food store, meaning you don't even have to venture far or try to order some incredibly exotic ingredient online. And there's no reason you can't try every single one of them, alternating until the sunburn eventually heals.
And while there are many natural remedies to try, let your sunburn serve as a reminder to pack sunscreen wherever you go and perhaps to invest in a UPF shirt because we can all agree: sunburns are a summer bummer.
1. Aloe Vera
The University of Arkansas Medical Services reported that "aloe vera aids the skin in healing from sunburns and mild burns." They also said that rubbing aloe vera on your skin can "moisturize the skin, helping you avoid the peeling normally associated with skin damage."
2. Ice Water
You shouldn't put ice directly onto your sunburn, but you can use ice to make ice water for cold compresses to apply to your burned skin, said SkinCancer.org. Or, take a cool bath to help reduce the irritation.
3. Baking Soda
Parents Magazine reported that taking a bath that's mixed with baking soda can help make that sunburn less itchy. Just don't stay in there too long or you'll run the risk of drying out your skin even more.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can help relieve the pain of a sunburn, according to naturopath Dr. Lynn King in Woman's Day, but make sure you dilute the vinegar as undiluted vinegar can cause an even stronger burning sensation. "Just soak a cloth or towel in a solution of half vinegar, half water and apply it to the affected area," she advised.
Oatmeal can help reduce the inflammation and irritation of a sunburn, as reported by the BBC. Dr. Nisith Sheth explained, "Oats — and oatmeal — have been well known to reduce inflammation, and they're in some products to treat things like eczema, because of its anti-inflammatory effects."
If you're going to use fat-free milk to treat your sunburn and get relief from the pain of it. You can apply it in cool compresses for 20 minutes every two to four hours, according to Prevention.
If you don't have fat-free milk on hand, you can use yogurt and apply it to your sunburn to help it heal. "The enzymes and probiotics in plain, unflavored yogurt help to heal sunburns naturally," according to Reader's Digest.
Similarly to baking soda, cornstarch is known to reduce inflammation and itching from a sunburn when you mix it into a cool bath, according to i
Potato's "starchy compounds will take the sting out of sunburns," said Prevention. All you have to do is slice a few potatoes and rub them on your sunburned skin.
Martha Stewart has a recipe for a sunburn soother that you might get to sip on as well. It's a combination of black tea and mint; the former has tannic acid which "draws the heat from the burn and restores the skin's acid balance," and the latter "cools the skin." She advised pouring four cups of boiling water over two or three tea bags and two cups of fresh mint leaves. Let it cool and apply it to your burnt areas with a towel or cotton balls.
Sunburns can be itchy, and one way to treat that in small, sensitive areas like the ears or nose is to use a hydrocortisone cream with added moisturizers, reported CNN.
For a small sunburned area, slicing cucumbers can also work to help soothe your sunburn. Some sites suggest cooling and blending cucumbers into a paste, but Real Simple says slicing them and laying them directly onto your burns can work just as well.