by Rick Alan
Natural sunburn remedies Summer—the season for barbecues and picnics, sailing,
baseball, golf, and the beach. And if youre not careful, its the ideal time
We all probably have at least one memory of a nasty childhood sunburn—the hot
red skin that was painful to touch, the stuff Mom sprayed all over it to cool it
off, and the flaking and peeling that came later. Some people with severe
sunburns even experience blistering, fever, chills, nausea and/or vomiting.
If you take the proper protective measures, you shouldnt get burned. But if you
do, youll want to seek treatment that will do two things: cool the skin to help
ease the pain and moisturize the skin with ingredients that promote healing.
Traditional, over-the-counter remedies
There are numerous over-the-counter (OTC) skin care products and pain
medications that can be used to treat sunburn. According to Dr. Jeffrey Dover,
Associate Chairman of the Department of Dermatology at Bostons Beth
Israel/Deaconess Medical Center, one of the most soothing is topical Solarcaine.
Other OTC pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen
(Advil), or naproxen (Aleve) will also help ease discomfort, but if youre so
burnt that nausea is a problem, you should avoid these products.
There are numerous over-the-counter (OTC) skin car
In addition to traditional OTC treatments, there are several natural remedies
for sunburn, including:
- Cool milk compresses - Applying cool whole milk to a sunburn with a soft
cloth or cotton gauze will help ease the pain and discomfort, while the fat
content of the milk will help soothe the skin and may facilitate healing.
- 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 a sunburn. Adding
chamomile oil or baking soda to a cool bath (or oatmeal to a lukewarm bath)
can relieve the pain. (After bathing, lightly pat the skin dry with a soft
towel, preferably cotton. If you take an oatmeal bath, let the light coating
of oatmeal that clings to your skin remain.)
- Rubbing alcohol - Because it evaporates so quickly, dabbing on rubbing
alcohol will quickly cool and ease the pain of sunburned skin.
For best results, follow the above-mentioned treatments immediately with a
slathering of moisturizing cream to relubricate the skin and facilitate its
retention of water.
Aloe vera is commonly used to treat sunburn. A thick, jelly-like substance
found in the leaf of the plant, aloe vera gel is soothing probably due in part
to anthraquinones (natural analgesics). Because it is naturally rich in
substances such as vitamins A, C, E and amino acids, it may also accelerate
healing, though this has not yet been well documented in clinical studies.
Gel extracted directly from an aloe vera plant works best, but the plants may be
difficult to find; plus, it smells terrible! Accordingly, you may want to buy an
OTC aloe vera cream that contains the gel. But if you do, make sure that the
cream contains a higher concentration of aloe vera than it does water or other
Proponents of homeopathy promote several homeopathic treatments for sunburn.
The basic principal of homeopathy is that if a substance is known to cause a
specific harm when taken or applied in a large dose, then the application of a
small dose of that same substance will stimulate the body to help heal the same
specific harm. Two of the most widely recommended homeopathic remedies for the
treatment of sunburn are calendula and urtica urens:
- Calendula - Extracted from the marigold plant, calendula is
available as a gel, spray or ointment. It is recommended for treatment of
sunburn because of its purported antiseptic and healing properties.
- Urtica urens - Extracted from the stinging nettle plant (the spine
of which causes burns when it directly touches the skin), the external
application of a mixture of one part urtica urens and ten parts water is
recommended to ease the pain and facilitate the healing of sunburned skin.
The best way to deal with a sunburn is to avoid getting one in the first
place. So, whenever youre out working or playing in the sun, be sure to take
the following precautions:
- Wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeve shirt and a hat.
- Avoid midday sun, if possible, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
- At least 15 minutes before going out into the sun, cover all areas of
exposed skin with a sunscreen containing a sun protection factor (SPF) of at
- Reapply sunscreen every hour while out in the sun, and more often if you
are perspiring heavily or swimming.
Since ultraviolet rays can filter through clouds, take the above precautions
even on cloudy days.
Also, be aware that certain medications, including many antibiotics,
tranquilizers and diuretics, can increase your susceptibility to sunburn. While
taking these or other medications check with your pharmacist or physician about
any increased risk for sunburn.