The warm summer sunshine brings with it the promise of enjoyable outdoor activities like swimming, fairs, biking, camping, and fishing. For many of us though, it also brings with it the inevitable, and very much dreaded, sunburn…ah yes, feel the burn.
There are always remedies, however, to relieve the pain and discomfort that sunburns cause. Here are a few helpful tips and tricks on natural solutions to help heal and protect sun-damaged skin:
1. Drink Water: Hydrate from the Inside Out
Sounds obvious enough, right? Many of us, however, don’t drink nearly enough to replenish the liquids our bodies have lost when all we can think about is how miserable we are. Sunburns severely dehydrate skin and nothing counteracts that quite like good ol’ H2O! So keep a tall glass or bottle of ice cold water on hand at all times to help your body heal faster.
2. Add a Splash of Vinegar
Applying a vinegar solution to sunburned skin has been a tried and true method that people have used for hundreds of years. Known for being a great natural astringent, apple cider vinegar soothes the pain caused by sunburns and helps speed up the healing process. The acetic acid present in apple cider vinegar also helps ease itching and inflammation. Here are a few ways to apply this treatment:
• Mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and cool water, then soak paper towels in the solution and place them over the affected areas. Leave the paper towels on until they are dry and repeat the process several times a day for a few days.
• Add a cup to a lukewarm bath and soak for about half an hour.
• Use unfiltered apple cider vinegar and put into a spray bottle to spritz onto your skin or soak cotton balls and apply to the skin and let it dry. This works best after a water only shower; soap will dry out your skin further.
3. Kitchen Cures
• Cucumber Chill Out
Nothing gives better instant relief from sunburned skin then chilled cucumbers. Not only is the coolness of the cucumber soothing to the skin, but its antioxidants and analgesic properties promote healing and further relief from discomfort.
Instant Relief: Slice up a chilled cucumber and lay the slices on any sunburned areas. Flip the slices after the first side heats up, like flipping your pillow to have the cool side up.
Lasting Relief: Put one or two chilled cucumbers in a blender to create a paste. You can add aloe vera gel or cornstarch if you would like it thicker. Apply this mixture directly on sunburned areas.
• Add Some Live Culture with Yogurt
Plain, live cultured yogurt contains an abundance of probiotics and enzymes that help heal skin. It must be plain, not vanilla flavored, yogurt and that it has probiotics. Make you’re your hands are clean, apply the yogurt directly to the burn, and let it sit for at least five minutes. When the pain has subsided, gently rinse with cool or lukewarm water.
• Tea Time
Rich in antioxidants, black tea has been used for years to treat irritated and damaged skin, such as sunburns. Soak several tea bags in cool water and allow the tannins to release; when the water darkens the tea bags and water are ready to apply.
You can apply the tea bags directly to your skin, which can be very useful in sensitive areas like eyelids. A cloth can also be soaked in the water to gently pat this solution on sunburned skin. Black tea will remove the heat, pain and stinging while the tannins released will help protect skin from UV radiation damage, reduce inflammation, and aid in restoring skin’s pH balance.
• Root for Potatoes
Well-known as a pain reliever for all types of skin irritations such as scratches, bites and burns, potatoes help draw heat out of your skin and reduce inflammation. Take two clean potatoes and grate them in a bowl or cut them up and put them in a blender or food processor. If the potato mush seems too dry, you can add a little water. Soak cotton balls or gauze in the mixture, then apply to sunburned areas and change the dressings every hour. Continue applying several times a day for a few days until the pain is relieved.
4. Moisturize with Chilly Treatments
It’s a known fact that sunburns dehydrate your skin, but sometimes those cooling soaks in the tub can also rob your skin of much needed moisture. Using moisturizer to help counteract this is always a good choice. Apply regularly, especially right after you soak or bathe, and chill in the refrigerator before use for some added relief.
5. Aloe Vera: It’s What’s for Sunburns
Probably the most popular and well-known method of curing the sting and heat of a sunburn, aloe vera has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties, plus natural soothing qualities. The most popular method of application is the gel form of aloe vera that you find in most stores. You can also use an aloe vera plant by breaking open the leaves and squeezing out the healing liquid within – make sure to chill this gelatinous substance for at least an hour before applying.
The application works the same regardless if you’re using a store-bought product or the real deal from a plant. Apply a light coating of chilled aloe vera gel onto any sunburned areas and allow it to dry to so your skin fully absorbs the medical properties.
6. Soothing Soaks
• Baking Soda Bath
Sooth the burn away in a cool bath with a few heaping tablespoons of baking soda and soak for about 15 to 20 minutes. Try not to soak for longer than 20 minutes to avoid the risk of drying your skin out further. After you emerge from your soak, resist the urge to towel dry and let your skin air dry instead, letting the baking soda solution to absorb into your skin. The alkaline in the baking soda soothes sunburned skin and has antiseptic properties to help relieve that itchy sensation.
• Oatmeal Bath
The addition of plain rolled oats in cool or lukewarm bathwater is an effective method in relieving sunburns. The polysaccharides in oatmeal will coat and heal your skin, while the water helps cool the burn and keeps skin hydrated and moist. Fill a clean cotton tube sock with about two cups of plain, uncooked rolled oats. Tie off the top of the sock, making sure to clench it tight so the oats don’t leak out and start floating around the tub. Toss the filled sock into the bathwater and let it soak for a few minutes and squeeze the sock to release the polysaccharides – the water will start to appear cloudy. While you’re soaking make sure to squeeze the sock every few minutes. Your skin may feel somewhat slick, which is a good thing. After about 30 minutes allow yourself to air dry or pat gently with a soft towel.