Summer is here once again and let’s face it—each of us has at least one memory of a nasty sunburn.
Whether experienced personally or by a close family member or friend, the symptoms are likely to include anything from red hot skin that is tender and/or painful to the touch, to nausea, dehydration, blistering and flaking or peeling of the skin.
Anyone who has experienced the discomfort of a sunburn knows that the amount of time spent causing the sunburn is largely disproportionate to the length of time that can be spent suffering the consequences of its effects.
In this respect, and depending on the severity of the burn, pain and discomfort can persist for several days after the event as the body works to heal and recover from the unprotected UV exposure.
Although the sting of regret of inadequate protection from the sun’s UV rays can be an excellent incentive to plan more carefully for future outings, it’s of little help in soothing the immediate physical sting (i.e. pain) that accompanies the sunburn.
Unless the symptoms are severe, (in which case you may need to consider medical treatment), here are 10 natural home remedies that are inexpensive and will assist in soothing the sting and pain of the sunburn, while assisting in the body’s natural healing process.
1. Cool baths: Soaking in a cool bath is one of the best ways to draw heat from the skin and soothe the pain and discomfort of sunburn. Avoid ‘cold’ as this can cause the body to go into shock. Here are some additional things to add to your baths for further relief:
a. Add 10 drops of essential oil (chamomile or lavender) to the bath. Soak for 15 minutes or until relief is felt.
b. Adding baking soda (or oatmeal) to a lukewarm bath can also relieve sunburn pain. For this treatment to work best, try to make sure that all affected areas are submerged. Bath water can be poured over the body using your hands or a soft washcloth. Burned facial areas can be gently dabbed using the cloth, or alternately you can splash water directly onto your face. After soaking, lightly pat the skin dry with a soft towel (preferably cotton). If you’ve take an oatmeal bath, let the light coating of oatmeal that clings to the skin remain.
c. Adding vinegar to the bath water will help in taking the sting out of sunburn. This also helps balance the skin’s ph levels and leaves it baby smooth. Another benefit is that the vinegar will help prevent the skin from peeling as bad.
2. Rubbing alcohol: Because it evaporates so quickly, dabbing on rubbing alcohol will quickly cool and ease the pain of sunburned skin.
3. Vinegar: Vinegar is an effective and cooling treatment for sunburn. Soak towels with it, and apply to the burned areas. Alternately you can fill a spray bottle and spray it directly on the skin as needed.
4. Egg Whites: If your burn is painfully hot, separating the white from the yolk of an egg, and then spreading the white over the affected area will help to cool the burning instantly. This can be repeated as often as needed.
5. Potatoes: Potatoes can also be used to relieve the pain of sunburn. Take two potatoes and wash them well. Cut them into tiny chunks and place in a blender to liquefy. (If the result appears too dry, add some water). Pat the affected areas with potato juice. Wait until dry, and then rinse off in a cool shower or bath.
6. Aloe Vera: The aloe vera plant has been known for centuries for its healing properties and is commonly used to treat sunburn. As well as providing soothing relief, it may also assist in the actual healing process. Apply to the affected areas as needed.
Although the gel extracted directly from an aloe Vera plant works best, if you don’t have ready access to one, use an ‘over the counter’ Aloe Vera Cream that contains the gel. For this to be effective, just ensure that the cream contains a high concentration of Aloe Vera than it does water or other solutions. Just remember, there’s no comparison to the actual plant. Cutting a leaf open and rubbing the inner gel over the sunburned area can offer tremendous relief. In fact, aloe vera is good to keep on hand for any type of burn. It’s definitely a first aid kit must have.
7. Cool Milk Compresses: The fat and lactic acids in milk are known to have soothing qualities for sunburned skin. Soak a soft cloth or cotton gauze in cool whole milk, and dab carefully onto the burned skin. Do this for around 20 minutes, and follow by rinsing off with cool water. Make sure to use whole milk as the milk’s fat content is very important to get optimum results from this treatment. Skim milk won’t do the trick people. Applying yogurt to the skin and letting it sit to pull out the heat will have a nice soothing effect also.
8. Cool, sugarless tea: The tannin in tea is the active ingredient here, which helps to soothe and relieve some of the discomfort of sunburned skin. After brewing a big pot of tea, and allowing it to cool completely, slosh the affected areas with a soft sponge or washcloth. As with the vinegar, you could also fill a spray bottle, and spray the tea directly on the skin. And don’t throw away the used (cool) teabags. These are especially good for sensitive areas around the eyes—simply place the teabags over your eyes if they feel hot and tired.
9. St John’ Wort: St. John’s Wort can be purchased as a tea and prepared as above or it can be purchased as a cream or oil and applied to the skin. It is known worldwide for its wound healing properties. Consider using this on your sunburn as it contains cooling properties, which can help tone down some of the heat in your skin, as well as soothing the nerve endings damaged by the sunburn.
10. Water: When exposed to the sun, the body loses water and essential body salts. Dehydration occurs when the body loses too much fluid, and begins to reabsorb fluid from the blood and other body tissues. To prevent the consequences of dehydration, increase your fluid intake to ensure you adequately re-hydrate the body for optimum recovery and health. It may seem like a small detail, but staying hydrated is key for healthy skin.
Remember, sunburn should be avoided whenever possible. Besides causing varying degrees of discomfort and pain, repeated sun exposure and sunburn damage the skin, accelerates the aging process, and can increase the risk of cataracts and skin cancer.
And although home remedies can offer tremendous relief to overexposed skin, they should not replace your regular health care provider for severe sunburns. If in doubt at any time about your sunburn, always seek the appropriate healthcare assistance. Sunburns can be a serious condition, especially for those with fair skin.
Prevention and protection should always be considered more preferable than treatment and will assist in ensuring your optimum long term health!
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Ed: Bryonie Wise