Sunburn is the bane of summertime, thwarting tans and forcing people to cover up. It can happen at any time of the year though, because it is the exposer to the ultra-violet rays of the sun that cause it. When you’re getting bombarded with UV light, your exposed skin ups its production of melanin. Melanin is the dark pigment in the top layer of your skin (the epidermis) that gives it its color, and also determines how tan you can get. Upping the production of melanin is the bodies’ way of protecting the deeper layers of the skin, and the tan acts as a shield against UV light. However, the amount of melanin produced to protect you is determined by genetics (so people with fair skin produce less melanin and are more likely to burn) and all in all you end up with a natural shield equal to around SPF 4. The best thing to do is prevent sunburn, but even when you do try to protect yourself, you may end up burned anyways. To avoid peeling and get rid of the redness and stinging, here are few home remedies for sunburn that are simple, fast, and effective.
- Potato paste
If you’ve found yourself with searing hot red skin, root up a few potatoes. Potatoes have been known as a pain reliever throughout the years, working particularly well on minor skin irritations and soothing scratches, bites, and burns, as well as possibly reducing inflammation. Some people feel that the juice of the potato works the best, while others feel just slices are sufficient. Try both, and see which one is the best remedy for your sunburn.
You will need…
-A grater, blender, or knife
-Cotton balls, cotton pads, facial tissue, or gauze
Wash and scrub your potatoes thoroughly, and then either grate them over a bowl or cut them up and put them in a blender. There is no need to remove the peels. If you’re using a blender, give them a whirl until they’ve become quite liquid. If they seem too dry, you can add a small amount of water. Pour out the mixture, soak cotton balls thoroughly in it, and apply to sunburn. An easier perhaps more effective method would be to soak gauze and lay it over the burn. If you’re using a grater, grate the potatoes over a bowl and apply the pulp, trying to get as much juice as possible. You can also try simply slicing the potatoes, and lying the slices directly on your burn.
2. Cool milk compress
A cool milk compress is one of the quickest, simplest and low-cost ways to treat sunburn. It doesn’t get much easier than just heading to the refrigerator for relief-and easy is good when treating anything. The initial coolness of the milk will ease the heat, while it also creates a layer of protein to protect your skin, help it heal, and further soothe discomfort.
You will need…
-Gauze or a clean, soft, washcloth
Pour a bowl of milk high enough so that you can thoroughly soak your compress in it. When the gauze or washcloth is saturated, let the excess liquid drain off. Drape across your burn, pressing gently so that it stays in place, and leave it on for as long as needed. If the milk in the bowl becomes room temperature chill it before re-dunking your compress.
4. Drink up
Sunburn is a burn. It sounds like stating the obvious, but we often don’t think about the fact that we really, truly, seared our skin. As with any other thing that burns your skin is dried out, and your body is probably dehydrated too. Keep a tall glass or bottle of ice cold water on hand at all times to make sure you’re keeping yourself full of H20, which is necessary to heal your damaged skin.
5. Cool off with mint & tea
Mint naturally cools and soothes whatever it touches, and sunburns are no exception. The tannic acid and theobromine found in green tea also helps relieve pain and heal damaged skin when applied topically.
You will need…
-1 quart of boiling water
-5 green tea bags
-3 cups of fresh mint leaves
-Cotton pads or a clean soft cloth
Bring 1 quart of water to a boil. Remove the strings and tags from the 5 tea bags and add them, as well as 3 cups of fresh mint leaves, to a pan. Pour the boiling water over the mint leaves and tea bags and cover with a lid, letting is sit for approximately an hour so you can get all the good stuff out of it. Strain and then chill. When the mixture has chilled thoroughly, use cotton pads or a clean soft cloth soaked in the liquid and apply directly to the burn. You can also pour it over the burn if you wish. If you find yourself without green tea you can substitute black tea, which also contains tannins.
6. Indulge in some aloe
Aloe vera gel is many peoples go-to when they have sunburn. It’s cool, soothing, and seems to suck the sting and redness right out of your sunburn. Because aloe is useful for a number of other ailments (such as acne or heartburn) it’s handy to have a plant growing in your house. They’re easy to maintain, free from any additives, and you won’t have to keep running out to buy more from the store all the time once it’s big enough. If you would really rather prefer not having the plant, getting some good quality aloe vera gel from the store is the next best thing-it’s also more practical for treating larger areas.
You will need…
-An aloe plant with thick, juicy, leaves
-Enough store bought gel to cover your burn
If using the plant, slit several big leaves down the middle, not cutting all the way through. Spread them flat, and lay on your burn. You can also squeeze the gel out. If you’re using gel that’s already been extracted, apply however much you need to your sunburn. The plant is usually more practical when treating smaller areas, while the purchased aloe gel is easier to spread over a big burn. A combination of both works as well.
7. Season with vinegar
Vinegar has been part of family lore for literally hundreds of years. While there is no official research done on how it helps sunburns in particular, there are a vast amount of people out there who swear up and down that vinegar helps heal sunburn, or mildly burned tissue in general. Pure unfiltered apple cider vinegar seems to work the best, and often times proponents of this method say is most effective after a cool or tepid shower.
You will need…
-1 cup roughly apple cider vinegar
-a spray bottle (optional)
-Cotton balls or something similar for application
Try this after taking a water only shower if possible. Fill a spray bottle with pure unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and spritz it onto your burn, or soak cotton balls and apply. Let it dry.
8. Wash it with witch hazel
Witch hazel is a staple when it comes to healing a number of ailments and maladies. Witch hazel is a plant, but only the leaves bark, and twigs, are used medicinally. They contain chemicals called “tannins” which, when applied to directly to the skin, can help reduce swelling, repair damaged skin, and ward off nasty bacteria. You’ll most likely find witch hazel in a distilled liquid extract form, which simply distilled from the dried leaves, bark, and twigs of the plant. It may also be called witch hazel water.
You will need…
-3 tablespoons of witch hazel, approximately
-Cotton balls or a clean soft cloth
The amount of witch hazel you will need will depend on the area of the burn you want to cover. Pour the necessary amount into a bowl, and soak cotton balls or a clean cloth in the liquid. Dab on just enough to cover the burn-it doesn’t need to be dripping off. Reapply as needed for pain.
9. Take a bath with the Quaker guy
Add oatmeal to a bath, the polysaccharides in oatmeal will coat and heal your skin, while the water cools you down and keeps your skin hydrated and moist. Make sure your bath is tepid, or slightly on the cooler side. Cold water will seal off pores and your body will want to trap heat. The burn is hot enough that tepid water will still soothe it.
You will need…
-Roughly 2 cups of rolled oats, uncooked
-a clean tube sock
Fill a clean cotton tube sock with uncooked oatmeal and tie off the top. Make sure the top is really cinched off; otherwise the oatmeal will leak out and float around. Run a bath full of tepid water, only a little on the cool side if you feel even tepid is too warm. Toss in the sock and let it soak for a few minutes before getting in the tub. Squeeze the out the sock to get all the healing goodness, and repeat every few minutes. The water will get cloudy, and your skin may feel somewhat slick-which is a good thing. Let yourself air dry, or pat dry gently with a clean soft towel when you’re finished.
Note: Don’t linger for hours, as a super long soak may dry out your skin more in the end.