Summer is upon us; you know what that means: Fun in the sun. However, sometimes we can have too much fun and forget to use sunscreen. While prevention is best, sometimes things happen. For those times, here are some suggestions to heal and help relieve the pain of sunburn.
While out in the Sun…
To reduce the possibility of a severe burn while out in the sun, pay attention to the color of your skin. However, remember the severity of sunburn is generally not visible for 12 to 24 hours after exposure. So, what you think is mildly pink and doesn’t look like a big deal, maybe more severe than at first glance.
When you notice the first hint of sunburn, your first inclination may be to apply more sunscreen. However, it’s probably too late at this point to use sunscreen. The best thing you can do is either get out of the sun or cover-up.
Easing the Burn of Sunburn
Sunburn needs quick action to start the healing process and to reduce pain. Here are a few suggestions that may help take the sting out of sunburn and help heal it.
- Apply cold compresses to the burned area, or take frequent cool showers or baths.
- Aloe Vera helps to heal sunburn. Before buying an aloe vera product for sunburn, read the label. Many aloe vera products contain alcohol and chemicals that could irritate the sunburn. Buy an aloe vera plant and use the gel directly from the leaf.
- Lavender essential oil is known to heal burns. Lavender oil is one of the essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin. Mix it with aloe vera gel for double the healing power.
- Use a sunburn friendly moisturizer.
- Avoid moisturizers that have alcohol, benzocaine, or other anesthetics. Alcohol will dry out the skin. Anesthetics haven’t been shown to help sunburns, but have shown to irritate the skin.
- Benzocaine has been linked to a rare but deadly condition where the amount of oxygen in the blood decreases. Do not use benzocaine on children under that age of two without medical supervision because children of this age group have been the most affected.
- Eat anti-inflammatory herbs and foods to help reduce inflammation and pain. Turmeric, ginger, and valerian root can reduce pain and inflammation. White willow bark is the original aspirin; it contains salicin the precursor to aspirin. Willow bark pain relievers are sold in natural food stores.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water. Sunburns can cause headaches, which can be a sign of dehydration. Avoid alcoholic beverages.
- Lying down in a cool, dark room can be comforting and help with a headache.
- Milk and water in equal parts can help relieve sunburn discomfort. The protein in milk creates a soothing film. Milk needs to be in equal part to water. Milk by itself can irritate the skin once it dries and hardens. Dip a cloth into the water and milk mixture and apply the compress to the affected area.
- White vinegar also soothes the pain of sunburn. Dilute vinegar with water in a clean bottle that has a sprayer. Spray the sunburn area. Be careful not to spray the vinegar near your eyes. A cup of white vinegar can also be added to a cool bath.
- Chamomile, black, or green tea can also help relieve sunburn. Brew the teas individually or combine the chamomile with either black or green tea. Allow the tea to cool and make a compress, or add tea to a cool bath.
- Peeling is part of the natural process of sunburn healing. Continue to treat the area that has peeled with moisturizer.
- Allow blisters to heal on their own. Don’t try to break them open; this could lead to infection.
When to Seek Medical Help
If you have any of these symptoms, see a healthcare practitioner: fever, chills, nausea, rapid breathing, rapid pulse, dizziness, dehydration, severe headache, shock, severe blistering, and itchy bumps – these can be signs of sun poisoning.
See a doctor if the sunburn area becomes infected. Signs of infection include swelling, pus, or a red line in the area of the burn.
While sunburns can take the fun of sun, there are natural sunburn remedies that can help you recover so you can get back to what’s important: More fun in the sun.
5 Ways to Treat a Sunburn. Retrieved from https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sunburn/five-ways-to-treat-a-sunburn.
Cunha, John P., DO, FACOEP, Sunburn (Sun Poisoning) Symptoms, Pain Relief, and Healing Time.