July 14, 2013

Inexpensive Tips for Treating Sunburn

Although I am an avid sunscreen wearer, some how each year I end up with a sunburn.  Whether it is due to an unexpected outing or underestimating exposure to the sun, sometimes sunburns happen.  Although home remedies will not undo sun damage, they will help to relieve some of the pain and help the skin to heal more quickly. 

Here are some inexpensive methods to try at home. 



Take a bath 

Take a bath in oatmeal.  Put some oatmeal in a cheesecloth or sock and tie it shut.  While in the bath, squeeze the oatmeal milk on your skin.  (I also use this remedy during the winter months with my eczema.) Or instead of using oatmeal, try a bath with baking soda. Add a few heaping tablespoons to the bath water. Be sure to use warm or cool (not cold) water so that you don’t send your body into shock.  Also, try to air dry so that you don’t wipe off the oatmeal or baking soda. 

While a cool bath may feel great to your skin, avoid soaking for too long which can further dry out your skin. 

Apply a cool compress

Apply apple cider vinegar to the burn with a cottonball, or make a cool compress.  Keep the skin moistened.  This remedy will help prevent blistering and peeling. Or soak a washcloth in baking soda and water or oatmeal and water and apply as a compress.

If you don’t have vinegar, oatmeal, or baking soda, use cool water to help relieve discomfort.


Your skin is already dry from the sunburn and the baths and compresses are causing it to dry out more.  Help prevent dryness by applying moisturizer after baths and compresses.  You might even try cooling the lotion in the refrigerator.  You might want to wait a day or two to stay applying moisturizer so that the lotion doesn’t trap the heat against the skin.

Apply aloe vera

Aloe is effective in relieving pain and inflammation. Cut open the leaves and apply the gel directly to the skin. Check your local grocery store or nursery for aloe plants. Apply the aloe several times per day.

Drink water

Drink water to replenish fluids and help skin heal. 

Take an over the counter pain medicine 

Try ibuprofen or aspirin to help with the pain. Be sure to take it with food so that you don’t get an upset stomach. 

Apply milk

Some people find that applying milk or yogurt to a sunburn helps ease the pain.  You could apply it with gauze or a cloth.  I have never tried this method but am curious to know if it works. The tannin in strawberries is also helpful so perhaps you could try using strawberry yogurt.

Brew black or green tea

Brew some tea and let it cool.  Put it in a spray bottle and spray on the sunburn, apply it as a cool compress, or apply wet tea bags.  You can also take a bath in brewed tea once it has cooled.  The tannic acid in the tea helps relieve the burn. 

Apply Vitamin E

Break open Vitamin E capsules and squeeze onto your skin to promote healing.

Apply potato slices

Apply sliced or grated potatoes directly to the skin. The starch helps draw the heat out of your skin.

I’m sure there are many other home remedies. Which methods have you tried? Which are your favorite?

This post is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for a doctor’s care. If your sunburn is accompanied by fever or chills, you may need to see a medical professional.

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