20 Home Remedies for Sunburn

Photo (cc) by Kelly Sue

We’re officially in the sweltering days of summer. That means a lot of outdoor festivals, barbecues, sun, and – if you’re anything like me – a lot of sunburns.

I’m one of those unfortunate people who burn if I spend more than 30 minutes outdoors. So come July, my medicine cabinet is full of sun-tan lotion and burn-relief gels. I’ve been buying the stuff for years. But as it turns out, I didn’t need to.

In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has a slew of home remedies for sunburns. Check it out, because you probably have many of the ingredients around the house. Then read on for even more home-relief recipes…

Here’s how to try Stacy’s homemade sunburn remedies – and a whole bunch more. While we can’t say they’ll all provide instant relief, they’re worth a try. If they work, they’ll save you both pain and money. And if they don’t? Well, at least you might free up some space in the pantry or refrigerator…

1. Water

First things first: Long periods of time in the sun and sunburns dehydrate you, so drink plenty of water. It will help you heal faster and feel better. Also take a bath in cool to room temp water. While hot water and extremely cold water can make sunburns worse, submerging the burned areas in tepid water will give you some relief.

2. Cool compress

If you don’t have access to a bathtub – or time to lay around in one – the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health suggests using a cold compress. Soak a washcloth in cool water, wring out the excess, and apply the wet compress to the burned areas. Be sure to apply gentle pressure – press too hard and the fibers in the towel will aggravate your skin.

3. Milk

Milk soothes your skin and helps take some of the sting away – either applied directly or diluted in bath water. To apply it directly, add a few cups of milk to a spray bottle, spritz it on the burned areas, and allow it to dry into your skin. To make a bath, pour a half gallon into the bathtub with cool water and soak.

4. Baking soda

Baking soda has a ton of household uses – including sunburn relief. To use it, add about half a cup to a bowl and mix the baking soda with a small amount of water to make a paste. Gently apply the paste to your skin. It will ease the pain while it dries.

5. Aloe

Aloe is a classic sunburn relief aid. You can use either the bottled stuff or the plant itself. If you’re going bottled, look for an organic aloe gel. If you’re using a plant, tear off a leaf and press the edge between two fingers to release the liquid.

6. Oats

Plain oatmeal soothes skin, reducing some of the pain associated with sunburns. I added about a cup of dry oats to a cool bath with milk – and the pain and itching didn’t come back for several hours. Which was long enough to help me get to sleep.

7. Tea leaves

The U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health says both green and black tea leaves can help take away some of the sting and keep your skin from blistering after a mild burn. Just make sure you let the tea leaves cool and apply them directly for the best results. I didn’t have any whole tea leaves, so I just ripped open a brewing bag and applied the leaves like a lotion. Still worked.

8. Potatoes

It sounds like an old wives’ tale, but the juice from potatoes may help sunburns heal faster. My mother swears you can just cut a potato in half and gently rub the exposed side on the burn, but my friend grates the potato to get the most juice.

9. Cornstarch

If you’ve ever tried to put a bathing suit or tight-fitting clothing on after being in the sun too long, you know the pain is borderline agony. It happens because the material is rubbing against the skin, aggravating the burn. If you sprinkle a layer of dry cornstarch over the burned area before you get dressed, the cornstarch will act as a buffer and keep your clothing from chafing you.

10. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar, made from fermented apples, reduces the pain and inflammation after a sunburn. You can use the stuff in a couple of different ways:

  • Dilute half a cup of apple cider vinegar in half a cup of water and mix well. Use a cotton ball or microfiber towel to dot the mixture on your burn and let it soak in.
  • Add a cup of apple cider vinegar to a cool bath and soak in it. Don’t worry, the smell goes away as the vinegar dries.

11. Tomatoes

My friend swears by the healing powers of tomatoes. After she got a bad sunburn, she crushed up a couple of tomatoes and applied the juice and pulp to her skin. She let it sit for 20 minutes and the pain was gone. For this to work, fresh tomatoes are best.

12. Ketchup

I thought this was one of those Internet rumors for Snopes.com to debunk, but the premise makes sense. Ketchup is primarily vinegar and tomatoes, so applying it like a lotion over your sunburns should alleviate pain. I didn’t believe it, but my lifeguard friend said it’s worked for him in the past.

13. Yogurt

Whenever my skin is dry or itchy, I use a bit of plain yogurt as a skin mask. I let it sit on my skin for about 20 minutes before rinsing with cool water. It feels a little weird, but my skin is always softer and less painful afterwards.

14. Witch hazel

Witch hazel is a plant derivative. It’s sold at health food stores and some major retailers as an astringent. When applied topically, witch hazel helps shrink enlarged blood vessels, which may cut down on some of your sunburn’s healing time. To use, apply it directly with a cotton ball and let it soak into the skin.

15. Lettuce water

The one time I visited a spa, they used lettuce water in almost all of their skin treatments. When sprayed onto the skin, it has a cooling effect that takes away the sting and itch from bug bites, rashes, and sunburns. I run iceberg lettuce through my juicer and dilute the juice with water, but you can also tear up lettuce leaves and put them in a spray bottle with some cool water to get the same effect.

16. Avocado

Avocado is often used in face masks and skin treatments because it nourishes the skin. That nourishment may help your sunburn heal faster. While I wouldn’t use a face mask on a sunburn (the other ingredients could make things worse), you can mash up a whole avocado and apply it directly to the burned areas for some relief.

17. Vitamin E

Vitamin E shortens healing time and helps keep your sunburn from peeling and flaking. To use, break open a vitamin E capsule and squeeze the liquid onto your sunburn, then gently (very gently) rub the gel into your skin. Repeat this a couple of times a day.

18. Mustard

I’ve never been brave enough to try this myself. Seems rubbing the mustard onto your sunburn and letting the paste sit until it dries stops the pain. If you want to give it a shot, use the regular yellow mustard – it has the fewest ingredients, which means less chance of irritation.

19. Cod liver oil

Cod liver oil has a high amount of vitamins A and D, which help skin retain moisture and heal quickly. If taken orally, you’ll start to notice a difference in your hair, skin, and nails within a few days. You can also apply the oil directly to your sunburn for faster results.

20. Egg whites

Egg whites have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with a sunburn. Just break an egg, remove the yolk, and cover your sunburn in a thin layer of egg whites. The egg whites will reduce some of the swelling and help moisturize the dry skin.

Those are 20 different homemade remedies we’ve tried (or heard about) for a sunburn. Do you have your own recipe for sunburn relief? Sound off on our Facebook page and tell us about it.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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