Sunburn is painful, and best avoided, but even the best of us make mistakes and end up getting burned. These following remedies work well, I’ve tried them all myself at some time or other. It’s important to take fast action and these are all things that you are likely to have at home. Just make sure that you only use these if the skin isn’t broken. If you have blisters, or broken skin, see a doctor. There is a greater risk of infection so don’t take chances.
Quick and Easy Sunburn Cures
The first sign of the sun and we Brits take our clothes off. And we often forget the sun cream, ending up with painful sunburn. These remedies work fairly quickly.
In the UK, when the sun comes out, we tend to shed our clothes to make the most of it. One of the downsides of this is that lots of us end up getting sunburnt. I will confess to having been one of those who has suffered from sunburn in the past, largely through falling asleep in the sun. Apart from the now-known health dangers (links to developing certain types of skin cancer) it’s painful.
Of course, prevention is better than a cure, and setting an alarm on your watch or mobile is a good way to ensure that you re-apply your sun protection cream at regular intervals, but if you do get caught out, here are some easy ways to ease the pain, and most of them will already be at home. (Always remember, if you get sunburn with blisters and/or the skin breaks, you’re better off seeking medical help.)
1. If you’ve got burned, the chances are that you are dehydrated too, so start to drink plenty of water. It won’t help the burning immediately, but will assist in your longer term overall healing. Anyway, being dehydrated is never good for you. The easy way to tell if you are hydrated enough is the colour of your urine (I know, charming) – if it’s a light colour, you are probably ok.
2. Get some natural, unflavoured yoghurt and spread it onto the sunburned areas. Leave it for half an hour then shower off in a cool shower and gently pat dry. No hot water, because that will just make the burning worse. If you don’t have any yoghurt, make a cold milk compress by soaking a clean cotton cloth in milk, but make sure that the milk is pasteurised or sterilised. Refresh the compress every five minutes until you feel some relief.
3. Use ice packs. If you treat sunburn in the same way that you’d treat any other burn, you won’t go too far wrong. So either use a cold water compress (but remember to change it regularly, your sunburn will warm it up, making it less effective) or get an ice pack or pack of frozen vegetables out of the freezer. Wrap it in a towel first, you don’t want to add an ice burn to sun burn and apply to the burned areas. Stay like this for until the pain subsides, but be warned, it could take several hours to really feel better in cases of extreme sunburn.
4. Vinegar. I was very surprised when I heard about this, but I’ve tried it and it does help. Normal vinegar or cider vinegar, either will work. As a mild astringent, vinegar will help to take the sting out of the burn.
5. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to get sunburned on your eyelids, use tea bags or cucumber slices. Cucumber is easy, just slice it and apply. Tea bags – boil water in the usual way, drop a couple of tea bags into a mug and apply water, but no milk, and then let the tea bags cool. Place one on each closed eye. If there is a large area of sunburn, make a big pot of tea and cool it as quickly as possible, then soak clean rags in the tea and apply to the burned areas.
6. Fresh tomatoes. Crushed or sliced tomatoes work in much the same way as vinegar, and are mildly astringent too. They really help take the sting out of sunburn.
7. Take aspirin or ibuprofen. Both have anti-inflammatory properties, so they will not only help to ease the pain, they will also help to reduce the redness and swelling.
8. Aloe Vera is a great natural healer. If you happen to have a plant nearby, you can break off a leaf, split it open and smear the gel that oozes out onto the sunburnt area. Or some gel from the nearest pharmacy. Most countries sell it. It's better chilled but will work even if it's not. Re-apply five or six times a day.
9. If you have large areas of sunburn, just jump into a cold bath or shower. Don't soak in a bath for too long though, it can actually make it worse. Make it twenty minutes at most, and then pat dry gently. Don't use soap either, because it can aggravate the burned areas.
10. Potatoes. Not only do chopped potato segments make great facial cleansers, if you put them in a blender so that they are liquefied, then place them on the burned areas, they will help. Leave until they have dried out and then shower off. If it's a bit too messy, wrap them in gauze before applying.