It’s unfortunate that every year literally millions of people around the world sit there in agony wondering how to get rid of sunburn.
It’s the summer, and of course everyone wants to be outside enjoying the weather. It could be a day at the beach, swimming, a picnic, a barbecue, or just sitting outside drinking with friends, whatever the reason, people get caught out by spending too long in the sun.
Ultraviolet rays from the sun cause sunburn. When you are exposed to too much UV light it burns your skin, literally causing burns. The result is painful, red skin that leaves you sometimes almost unable to move.
The best way to avoid getting sunburn is to not go in the sun.
But that is nearly impossible, right? We all love being out in the sun. So if you do, do follow these simple rules:
- Always use a good quality sunscreen (if you prefer the natural option see my review of 5 best organic sunscreens)
- Try not to go out in the middle of the day when the sun is strongest
- Always carry clothing and a hat that you can use to cover your skin
- Don’t forget sunglasses!
Unfortunately, despite it being so simple to not get sunburn, every single year millions of us suffer from it. If you are one of those people, then let’s give you some of the best home remedies that will quickly soothe your discomfort.
Best natural remedies for sunburn
1. Baking soda
Baking soda is very alkaline in its composition, which means it’s great for soothing sunburned skin.
Baking soda also has antiseptic characteristics which will help to relieve itchiness and stop infection from cracked skin.
Simply fill a bath of cold water, add 1 cup of baking soda and mix it in until it dissolves. Gently soak your body in the water for about half an hour. Then gently pat your body dry with a fresh towel and allow yourself to dry in the air.
For really fierce areas, a great way to get rid of sunburn is to mix baking soda with water to form a paste, which you can then dab on gently to the affected areas of skin.
2. Aloe vera
One of the best home remedies for sunburn is undoubtedly aloe vera. It is brilliant at dealing with inflammation and also minimizing irritation of the skin. It’s an incredibly soothing natural substance that can help ease your pain, moisturize, reduce inflammation and promote more rapid healing of the skin.
Simply cut off an aloe vera leaf and extract the gel by squeezing gently. Repeat this with several leaves from an aloe vera plant until you have a good quantity of gel. Then put the gel in the refrigerator until it is cold. Alternatively, you can get an organic aloe vera gel if you do not have the plant at home.
All you have to do is then gently smear it onto the skin and allow it to dry. You can do this as often as five times a day, just make sure the previous application has been absorbed fully.
One of the most widely used home remedies for sunburn for many centuries has been oatmeal. It has properties that can help soothe the skin and also helps the skin to lock in its natural moisture, which reduces irritation and flakiness.
All you have to do is fill your bath with cool water and add 1 cup of oatmeal. Mixing thoroughly and then soak in the water for about half an hour. Pat yourself dry as little as possible, and then allow your body to dry in the air.
You can create an oatmeal paste and apply this directly to the sunburned skin. However a word of caution here, the paste will be naturally abrasive so don’t ever rub it in, just pat it on and leave it to dry.
4. Black tea
The properties that make black tea great for naturally treating sunburn are the fact that it contains many antioxidants. It also contains tannin which can help to protect the skin from further UV light damage.
All you have to do to take advantage of this natural sunburn remedy is to brew half a dozen teabags in a pot of boiling water. Allow it to sit until cool then remove the teabags. Then place the brewed tea in the refrigerator until cold.
It’s then really easy and soothing to soak a soft cloth in the black tea solution and apply it to the damaged skin. Leave on until it dries and reapply when needed. A gentle word of warning here is that tea can stain clothes and furniture, so make sure you are not sitting around with wet tea on you.
5. Apple cider vinegar
Unbelievably apple cider vinegar can also help to soothe the pain associated with sunburn and significantly reduce the time skin takes to heal. Apple cider vinegar also contains acetic acid which has the ability to minimize inflammation.
Fill a bath with lukewarm water and pour in a cup full of apple cider vinegar. Then just soak your body for half an hour.
An alternative is to soak a soft cloth in a watered-down apple cider vinegar solution and lay it over your skin to soak in an soothe.
Milk not only contains proteins and fats that can help to soothe the skin, but it is also naturally anti-inflammatory and can have a really dramatic effect on reducing the effects of your sunburn.
Placing the milk on your skin will help to create a protein seal that will speed up the healing process.
To prepare milk to help treat sunburn, place one cup in a jug, then top up with 4 cups of cold water. Place in the fridge or freezer until very cold.
Then you can gently soak a soft cloth in the cooling milk mixture and pat it onto your skin. For the really bad areas, you can simply leave the cloth on for 15 minutes.
Repeat this process every few hours over the next 48 hours after sunburn occurred.
7. Pure coconut oil
Coconut oil is packed full of fatty acids. It is also a natural emollient, is kind to the skin and easily absorbed into the skin. Among other benefits, coconut oil is proven to dramatically and quickly reduce the effects of sunburn.
It also contains vitamin E which is a natural antioxidant. This can help to decrease inflammation and irritation. Because it is so easily absorbed into the skin and so rich, it is a great way to load your skin rapidly to deal with the effects of the sunburn.
A great trick is to mix slightly warm coconut oil and extra virgin coconut oil together to form a smooth and soothing paste. All you have to do is to gently rub this mixture into the skin.
An important point to make here about coconut oil is that it is often cited as a natural sunblock. Any properties it has in this area are minimal, and using it as sunscreen is not a great idea, it’s always best to use high quality proprietary SPF sunscreens.
You would never think it but the simple raw potato is an absolutely fantastic way of relieving the effects of sunburn. If you’re wondering how to get rid of sunburn fast and nothing else seems to work then grabbing a raw potato could be the answer to your prayers.
Potatoes are packed with natural starch which can help to take the heat out of your skin.
To use potatoes as a natural sunburn remedy, simply peel them, chop them and place them in the blender to form a paste.
Then gently smooth the paste over the affected skin areas and let it dry. Once it is completely dried, take a cool shower to rinse it off. You can repeat this a couple of times a day until your symptoms are gone.
9. Ice cold compress
This is possibly the simplest of all natural remedies for sunburn. All you need are some ice cubes and a cloth.
Make sure the cloth is wet with cold water, and then wrap a handful of the ice cubes in it. Gently applying the compress the worst areas of sunburn and hold down for as long as needed.
The point behind doing this is that the coldness will not only numb the skin and take away some of the pain, but it also helps to constrict blood vessels and therefore reduce the inflammation, helping to speed up healing.
An alternative is to run a cold bath and then fill it with ice cubes. If you can’t make enough ice cubes yourself, you can buy huge bags of them from the supermarket. They don’t cost much to buy, and when you are in acute pain and wanting to get rid of sunburn, then a tiny bit of money spent on rapid relief is worth it.
A couple of words of warning here, never directly apply ice cubes to your skin, as extreme temperature switch could cause damage, and never lay in an nice cold bath for too long.
10. Petroleum jelly
This is not recommended for general application as it can have a heating effect. However, if you have sunburnt lips, or other areas such as the top of your ears which are especially badly affected by sunburn, then a protective layer of petroleum jelly can really help.
Petroleum jelly will help to seal in and moisturize the damaged area. You should do this on top of treating it using one of the other remedies, and not in isolation.
Tips to Get Rid of Sunburn
As well as trying these 10 fantastic natural remedies, there are a few other things you should always do to speed up the healing process from sunburn.
- Stay hydrated
Sunburn dries out your skin and dehydrates the body. At its worst it can lead to sunstroke, which is a serious condition that requires immediate medical assistance. Make sure if you are sunburned that you continue to drink lots of water. On top of that try drinking fruit juice as well as this contains vitamins you will need to replace.
Maintaining healthy levels of body fluids will help your skin to heal more quickly, so it’s important to keep topping up with liquids in the days after you have been sunburn.
- Take inflammatory medicine to reduce the swelling
It is always a great idea to take an over the counter anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen when suffering from sunburn. One of the main symptoms of sunburn is that the skin becomes red and inflamed, so anything you can do to reduce this swelling will help to ease the discomfort.
Always follow the instructions when taking any medicine, especially when you are in acute pain because the temptation to take more than the stated dose will be higher.
- Take a vitamin supplement
Vitamin E is a natural anti-inflammatory. By taking a vitamin supplement that contains vitamin E, or rubbing vitamin E oil on your skin, you can push this anti-inflammatory straight into the areas of your body that need it.
Get Out In The Sun But Take Precautions
As we said at the start, the best way to not get sunburn is to protect yourself by applying sunscreen, and being sensible about the amount of time you spend in the sun and protecting yourself when you’ve had enough.
But if the worst happens then hopefully now you know how to make a sunburn go away, by using some cheap and effective home remedies that will really help to soothe the horrendous pain of sunburn.
The final word here is that if you or someone else is so sunburnt that you are really concerned, never rely just on a natural sunburn remedy, get them to a doctor or the emergency room as quickly as possible. The sooner you do this, the less likely they are to suffer long-term detrimental consequences to their skin.