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Natural Remedies for Sunburn

Updated on January 14, 2017
Bills Place profile image

Billy Haynes is a content writer and founder of HD Writing Co. He has an interest in many things and experience in writing about even more.

If you are like me and forgot sun block and you burn easily, or not very often hopefully this article brings you some relief from the pain. I'm typing this while looking like a bottle of hot sauce. The following are some natural remedies you can try at home.

What is a Sunburn?

A sunburn is caused from sitting in the sun to long. It's easier to get burnt by being outside for several hours in Spring time after being inside out of the sun during Winter months. When we get a sun burn we are basically killing our skin cells.

The part that you can see as red and hurts is called the epidermis (outer layer of skin), when we get a sunburn, it burns and kills the skin cells and the pain is from the living skin under the epidermis (could be deeper depending on intensity of burn) creating new cells to aid in replenishing your skin cells.

What causes Sunburn?

When you sit in the direct sun you are exposing yourself to UV (ultraviolet) light, UV light has the ability to kill cells. This is why some sort of sun block is always a good idea (don't forget it like me).

Why are Sunburns Red?

This is when your immune system begins to fix the mess you have gotten yourself into by increasing the flow of blood to the sun burnt areas which causes the redness you see. The blow flow increase allows white blood cells to remove the damaged cells.

Why do Sunburns Hurt?

Sunburns are painful because when the skin cells start to die, it activates the nerve endings for pain. They then begin sending signals to your brain that basically say "hey, cells are dying, this should hurt!". It's the damaged cells that release chemicals that activate the pain receptors, making a sunburn sensitive.


  • Pinkness or redness
  • Skin is warm or hot to the touch
  • Area is sensitive to touch, painful or tender.
  • Swelling of area
  • Small fluid-filled blisters
  • Headache, fever and fatigue if sunburn covers a large area

Personal experience with Sunburn Symptoms

I have had several sunburns over the years, some worse than others. I've had a couple pretty bad when I was younger. As of writing this I have a slight itch on my sunburn. However, while I was in the sun I first felt the slight burning sensation, then as it progressed I got the prickly sensation and that is when I knew it was time to get out the sun and that I would be hurting later.

Sun block with SPF, why all the numbers?

Simply put, the numbers range from SPF 2 - SPF 70. In theory, the higher the number the longer you can be in the sun without burning. However, don't take this for granted as it varies depending on the person. Are you the type that burns easily like me or takes a lot to burn. this would also factor in. If you're not sure, my best advice is go with the highest number you can, better safe than sorry. I may try to find time to do a more detailed article on Sun Block and SPF in the near future.

Medical Treatments

For pain medication you can use the following:

  • Acetaminophen, like Tylenol to help with fever
  • NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) such as Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, and others. Aspirin also works.

For the Subburn it's self:

Many stores carry products to help relief pain after sunburn in the same section sub block is in (yes, they rub it in our face). Some of these products include:

  • Aloe Vera, it comes in many forms and products, be sure it is for sun burns. I use Aloe Vera Soothing Gel.
  • Noxzema, This is originally a deep cleansing cream for the face, but works great with sun burns. I grew up with my mother putting this on me and it works.
  • There are countless amounts of over the counter products for sunburn relief.

Natural Remedies

Many people prefer natural remedies over medical treatments because they can be cheaper, and of course more natural and eco-friendly. Below are some natural ways to treat sunburns.

Aloe Vera

Yep, made top of the list here as well! Aloe Vera is a plant, sometimes known as the "miracle plant", "natural healer" or "first aid plant" because it has so many uses, treating sunburns is just one of the many uses. You can even grow them at home.

Bicarbonate of Soda

Adding Bicarbonate of Soda to bathwater may be helpful if you have a sunburn over a large area. It can help keep any blisters from bacterial infections and help relief itching as it's also used to treat chickenpox.

Note: When taking a bath with a sun burn you don't want the water to hot or warm as it the sunburn will cause it to feel even hotter. However, you don't want it to cold either.


Like potatoes (below), cutting an apple in half and rubbing it on the affected area can help relief the affects of sunburn.

Note: if skin is very sensitive I would not recommend rubbing the area.

Calendula (aka Marigolds)

Yes, you read right, marigolds to treat sun burn. Take marigolds and create an ointment , it's best to create an ointment beforehand.

Fun fact: Marigolds close up when wet weather is likely, it's like natures weather man (and probably more accurate).


Applying ice wrapped in a cloth it can help relief heat from the sunburn and keep swelling under control. If left on long enough, may help numb the area as well.

Coconut Oil

If you've ever noticed, coconut oil is in many skin products because it's good for the skin. It's also used to help sore skin. This can bought at a health food store, or you can make your own coconut oil at home.


This can be helpful if your sunburn itches. You can take uncooked oatmeal and mix it with water to make a paste to apply to the itchy area, this is good for smaller areas. If you have a larger area or more places that itch than you care to paste, you can add oatmeal to bath water and soak in it. They also sell products to do this in store for chickenpox.


You may have these laying around the kitchen? You can take and cut a potato in half and rub it on the affected area to ease the sore skin of a sunburn.

Note: If the sunburn is very tender you may not want to try this, rubbing may hurt more than it's worth.


You can use cucumber to treat irritated skin in a couple of ways. Slicing a cucumber and applying the pieces to the sore or irritated area of skin can help reduce the swelling and irritation because of the Vitamin C and caffeic acid that it contains. Eating it also helps replenish your skin by hydrating it from the liquid in cucumbers.


Steep four tea bags in a cup of bowling hot water for 10 minutes. Allow to cool (putting it in the freezer helps the cool down process), then using a cloth apply it to the sunburn. This can be used to help bites and stings as well.


As with fight fire with fire, if you look like one, use one works too (in this case at least). You can make a paste, puree a peeled tomato and add it to a spoonful or so of yogurt. The yogurt helps give it consistency. You can also slice a tomato, dip it in the yogurt and apply to sunburn. You may also use buttermilk instead of yogurt.


If your allergic to tomato's (like my Aunt), you can use the yogurt by its self to help relief the symptoms of sunburn. Just apply it like a paste over the affected area.


Personally haven't tried this (I can't stand the smell), but have read and heard it works great. It's known to ease the feeling of a sun burn and relief itching by adding two tablespoons of vinegar to a cup of water.

Questions for Readers

  1. Do you burn easy, what's the worst sunburn you have ever had?
  2. ·Know of any other natural remedies to treat sunburn not listed? (Note: Your answer may be added to the post with a link to your Profile!)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Billy Haynes


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    • Bills Place profile imageAUTHOR

      Billy Haynes 

      7 years ago from Paragould, AR

      Todd, I use Witch-hazel every night before bed as well.

    • profile image

      Todd Anderson 

      7 years ago

      I use Witch-hazel it is natural (astringent). Great for your skin and body.

    • Bills Place profile imageAUTHOR

      Billy Haynes 

      8 years ago from Paragould, AR

      Thanks jennzie, I am glad it is coming in handy for some people. I burn real easy, even burn with 110 SPF on this summer so I know the feeling. I hope these remedies help!

    • jennzie profile image


      8 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for writing this. I currently have really bad sunburn basically all over my body after going to the beach yesterday and it HURTS! I am taking ibuprofen, but I will definitely try these natural remedies as well.

      Voted up!

    • Bills Place profile imageAUTHOR

      Billy Haynes 

      8 years ago from Paragould, AR

      Sorry to hear your currently going through the worst one you've had. Oatmeal can be great for itching, when I was a kid and broke out with chickenpox I remember being put in a bath with oatmeal packets and it helped reduce the itching a bunch.

      Would you mind giving your feedback after you try it? I'm always interested to see how different things work for different people.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I burn VERY easily, in fact I'm experiencing the worst burn I have had so far! It's on my back and shoulders and it's soooooo itchy! I'm glad you put remedies for different symptoms! I will definitely need to try the Oatmeal because I habe never heard of i helpingt. :)

    • Bills Place profile imageAUTHOR

      Billy Haynes 

      8 years ago from Paragould, AR

      Thanks. If you know of any other remedies that you have used that help, feel free to share them.

    • pandula77 profile image

      Dr Pandula 

      8 years ago from Norway

      Great hub! Timely in the sense that I came back to the tropics from a very cold climate. Should use these for definite! Thanks. voted up!


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