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Treating and Soothing Sunburn

Updated on March 31, 2011

Sunburns are no fun. Most of us try to avoid them as often as possible, but every now and again one will creep up on us. There are lots of options for treatment and soothing of a sunburn. In fact you have a whole house full of options! Finding the one that works best for you may take a few trials, or you could find that any of them work it is just a matter of what you have around the house!

Drink Up

Water can help your skin a lot. While it is important to get lots of water every day, it is even more important when you have a sunburn. The water you take in will help counteract that drying effects of the sun.

Diet Help

So much of our bodies can be effected by what we eat. It is important to eat light while dealing with a bad sunburn. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables as well as a balanced diet for a variety of nutrients which will help your skin.

Make a Compress

For smaller areas you can make a compress. You will want to mix up one of the following liquids and then soak cloths in it. Gently add the cloths to your skin. You can also sit in front of a fan for added cooling.

  • Vinegar Water-Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to a bowl of water.
  • Witch Hazel-Add 1/2 witch hazel and 1/2 water.

  • Skim Milk-Add one cup of skim milk to four cups of water.
  • Oatmeal-Wrap dry oatmeal in gauze or cheesecloth. Run cool water through it. Discard the oatmeal and use the oatmeal water for the compress.
  • Baking Soda-Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to cold water.
  • Lettuce-Take several lettuce leaves and boil them thoroughly. Strain out the lettuce and place the lettuce water in the fridge. Then use it as a compress solution.

For each of these, soak a rag or wash clothe in it. Apply to the burned area. Let it sit there for up to two hours. If you remove it or when you remove it, don't dry your skin but rather let it air dry. Drying the skin can be irritating to it.

Pain Reliever.

You can take a pain reliever as directed. This can help to ease inflammation and to reduce the pain that you will be in.

Take a Bath

If you are burned a good portion of your body you can take a bath in one of the following mixtures.

  • Vinegar-Add two cups of vinegar to your cool or tepid bath.

  • Baking Soda-Add two cups of baking soda to your bath.
  • Tea-You can either brew four cups of very strong tea (black or green) and add that to your bath, or you can add five tea bags and let them soak beside you.

You can soak as long as you wish. However, it is important that you don't rub yourself dry when getting out. You can either drip dry or you can pat yourself very gently with a towel.

The Doctors Book of Home Remedies: Simple Doctor-Approved Self-Care Solutions for 146 of the Most Common Health Conditions, Revised and Expanded (The ... Library of Prevention Magazine Health Books)
The Doctors Book of Home Remedies: Simple Doctor-Approved Self-Care Solutions for 146 of the Most Common Health Conditions, Revised and Expanded (The ... Library of Prevention Magazine Health Books)
There are hundreds of home remedies out there and having a home remedy book can help you find a simple at home cure. In most cases one doesn't need to see the doctor for sunburn. Only in the most severe cases should you head to the doctor. To manage discomfort and help the sunburn heal quickly you can use home remedies.

Fruits and Veggies

Cut thin slices of cucumber, potatoe, or apples and place them on the burn. Leave them there for fifteen to twenty minutes and then take them off. Let their juices dry on the skin.

Pastes You Can Apply

Sometimes the best option is to make a paste and let that dry on the skin. There are also a number of options here as well.

  • Yogurt-Take plain (unsweetened and unflavored) yogurt and apply it to the skin. Let dry.

  • Baking Soda-Mix baking soda and water till it forms a medium thick paste. Apply and let dry.
  • Cucumber-Peel a cucumber and blend it. Then apply it to the burn and let dry.

  • Corn Starch-Make a paste of water and corn starch. Quickly apply to the skin and let dry (dries very quickly).

Apply one of these things, let dry thoroughly. Either let it flake off or shower in a tepid shower to remove.


Your body has to work hard to recover from a sunburn, especially a bad one. You will want to try to get a good nights sleep and if need be take a nap or two (when you can).

Moisturize and Heal the Skin

While there are some debates about the use of moisturizers many doctors report that this is the most important part of healing the skin of a sunburn. After all, the burn has depleted the moisture from the skin. There are several options for moisturizing.

  • Bath Oil-Gently add bath oil to the burned area. Let it soak in.
  • Your Favorite Moisturizer-You can use your favorite moisturizer. It is best if you choose something with no fragrance or a very light one and no added colorants.

  • Aloe Vera Gel-Everyone agrees that aloe vera is a great way to treat a wide range of problems. This is certainly one of them. You can either take a leaf of the plant (the spiky part) and squeeze out the gel onto the skin or blend the leaf and apply the gel. The leaves can be purchased in some stores in the produce department. However, aloe vera gel can also be purchased in most pharmacies and health food stores.

  • Oil-Oil is often very good for the skin. You can use olive oil, vegetable oil, or another oil that you may have. Some very good rather exotic types of oil are hemp oil or avocado oil.

See a Doctor

If you are in a lot of pain, blistered in a large area of your body, or having problems then you should call your doctor and ask for an oppointment. A bad burn can leave you exhausted, hurting, nautious, and feeling pretty bad. It is okay to see the doctor and see what he says. He may have an anitbiotic ointment that he wants you to use or may recommend a specific home remedy for some relief.

Guard Against Infection

If you have blisters or a really bad burn it can be a good idea to use a triple antibiotic ointment available over the counter. This can help prevent infection and treat infection before it gets bad. You can gently apply this to the area.

Prevent the Burn

Remember that preventing burns is important. It can make it better for you in the future and lower your chance of skin cancer. Sun screen can help, but make sure you are following the directions. Most sun screens need to applied 30 minutes before going out and after time in the pool or lake. You can also use clothing and hats to help protect yourself. Enjoy summer, avoid burns, and treat and sooth those you happen to get!


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