5 Natural, DIY Remedies for Sunburn Relief and After-Sun Care

By Mia Barnes – May 1, 2024

Despite best efforts, sunburn happens. Perhaps you didn’t plan to step outside and neglected to apply sunscreen, or maybe you didn’t expect the heat to be severe and left the umbrella at home. Whatever it was, your skin is now lobster-colored, inflamed and throbbing.

Acting quickly is the most important thing to do when treating a sunburn. Luckily, many natural home remedies can soothe your burned skin and kickstart the healing process. Here are five of them.

1. Ice Pack or Cool Water

Sunburns make the affected area feel hot to the touch, so applying an ice pack is a great way to bring immediate relief. If you don’t have one at home, wrapping a piece of ice in a soft cloth or towel will suffice. Apply it on the sunburned surface for 10-15 minutes multiple times daily to cool it down. Running your skin under cool water should also do the trick. Just remember not to use soap as it can further irritate and dry out the area.

2. Fresh Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is one of the best natural remedies for sunburn, cooling the skin on contact and providing a protective layer against external irritants. The aloin compound in the gel contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. If you’ve got the plant at home, simply break off a leaf and apply the sap directly to your skin. Alternatively, your local drugstore will often carry bottles of pure aloe vera.

3. Honey

Honey is a superfood with several benefits — one of them being the ability to provide instant relief to sunburned skin. The moisture from honey helps decrease the inflammation and redness of the affected area. Additionally, the antibacterial properties can create an unfavorable environment for bacterial growth, helping nullify the risk of developing infections. Honey is also a proven remedy for skin repair, which can go a long way in fast-tracking the healing process.

4. Coconut Oil

Cold-pressed, organic coconut oil can significantly relieve skin dryness and swelling from sunburns. The healthy fats in the oil also help increase the natural production of collagen, which improves skin elasticity. However, don’t apply it directly to the affected area, as the oil’s high viscosity can trap heat. Cool your skin with a cold compress or a cool shower before adding a thin layer of coconut oil to the sunburned area.

5. Tea Compress

Different types of tea, including chamomile, green and black, can relieve sunburn. The chemical properties in the leaves, such as catechins and tannic acid, can reduce redness and repair skin damage. Brew the tea as you usually would and let it cool, then soak a small towel in it and apply to the affected area. You could also immerse the tea bags in cold water and place them on your skin intermittently.

What to Avoid When Healing From a Sunburn

When dealing with a sunburn, knowing how not to exacerbate the issue is just as important as knowing what to apply.

For one, you want to avoid stepping outdoors without adequate protection. Your head is particularly at risk of skin cancer from prolonged sun exposure, so wearing a hat is essential. Wide-brimmed hats are ideal as they provide an equivalent SPF 5 level protection for your face, much better than your traditional baseball hat.

You’ll also want to avoid touching sunburned skin, which can cause more irritation and setbacks in healing. Affected areas are especially sensitive, and you might be tempted to touch them occasionally but resist the urge.

Lastly, avoid going out in hot weather. Schedule your outdoor activities for when it’s cooler — before noon and after 4 p.m. If you must go out during this period, stay hydrated. The rule of thumb is to drink at least 1 liter of water every hour you’re outside in the heat.

Remember, prolonged sun exposure can wreak temporary and long-term havoc on your skin. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, having five or more sunburns doubles the risk of melanoma.

Prevention Remains the Best Sunburn Remedy

The best way to deal with a sunburn is to not have one in the first place. Nevertheless, if you do get sunburned, these home remedies can provide immediate relief and speed up the healing process.


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