Summer is close at hand and with this season comes the glorious sunshine! The only downside to summer that I can think of is spending hours outside and getting, you guessed it, sunburn.
If like me you have fair skin, then you know how easy it is to get burned by the sun. Wearing sunscreen can only protect your skin from the sun for so long before you have to reapply it. If you forget, or just don’t put any on altogether, sunburn strikes and you spend the next few days or even weeks looking like a ripe tomato.
Additionally, sunburn is not only painful in the moment but it increases your risk of getting skin cancer. As written in The American Cancer Society® Cancer Facts & Figures 2019, “Many of the more than 5 million skin cancer cases that are diagnosed annually could be prevented by protecting skin from excessive sun exposure and not using indoor tanning devices.”1
Prevention and Natural Sunburn Relief
While it is best to avoid getting sunburn altogether, sometimes we do get burned. Thankfully, there are some natural remedies that can help alleviate the pain and redness. However, it is always worth doing a 24 hour skin test, on a small area on your inner arm, before slathering yourself with a suggested remedy. Most of the following natural remedies are mild, but you’ll want to be certain that you aren’t going to have an allergic reaction to any of them.
10 Tips for Sunburn Prevention and Relief
☼ Cover Up
The best way to remedy sunburn is to not get burned at all. Cover up and wear loose fitting clothing and a wide brimmed hat to protect your face and neck from the sun. Cotton and other lightweight natural fibres are best, and wearing lighter colors will keep you cooler. Also, don’t forget to protect your eyes and wear sunglasses when outdoors in the bright sun.
☼ Wear Sunscreen
Wear sunscreen if you are going to be exposed to the sun for for more than a few minutes. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen regularly, especially if you are swimming. Additionally, try to stay in the shade where possible to minimize your time spent in the sun.
☼ Coconut Oil
When you get a sunburn, it is important to keep the affected areas hydrated and moisturized. Coconut oil is a wonderful moisturizer, as it contains fatty acids that are good for your skin. However, do not put this on if you are going to be exposed to the sun anytime soon. Check out our blog post 7 Natural Skin Moisturizers You Might Already Have for more details on coconut oil and other natural skin moisturizers.
☼ Aloe Vera Gel
With soothing and cooling effects, Aloe vera is widely recommended for sunburn relief. Aloe may speed burn wound healing, is rich in antioxidants, and boasts anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and analgesic properties.2,3 You should be able to find 100% pure Aloe vera gel should be available at your local health food store. Keeping it refrigerated will add to it’s cooling effect.
☼ Rolled Oats
Oats are not just a breakfast item. They can also be used to soothe dry, inflamed, and/or itchy skin. Just put some organic rolled oats in a clean sock, cheesecloth, or similar piece of material, and tie it off with an elastic band or piece of string. Place the oat pouch in the tub while you are running a bath, and leave it in there while you bathe. Discard the oats after your bath, and wash the material you used for the pouch.
☼ Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is rich in tannins, which have been found to be antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Just make sure it isn’t mixed with any other ingredients, such as alcohol, before you apply it to your sunburn.
Mint is antipruritic, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory, and can help soothe irritated or inflamed skin. Brew up some mint tea, and cool with ice or in a refrigerator. Soak a flannel with the cooled tea and apply to the sunburnt areas. Here is our recipe for Fresh Peppermint Tea.
Cucumbers are widely regarded for their cooling effect. They can help hydrate the skin, are rich in antioxidants, and boast analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.4 For sunburn relief, slice up a cold cucumber or make a paste and apply to affected areas.
☼ Rose Water
Not only does it smell wonderful, rose water is hydrating and can help relieve inflammation, itching, and redness. Rose water contains antioxidants, can have an analgesic effect, and also has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties.5,6
The American Academy of Dermatology wrote this about sunburn treatment; “sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body.”7 With this in mind, make sure you keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. For sunburn relief, you can apply a cold water compress to affected areas to cool the skin.
Whenever you have blisters or open cuts, please don’t use any products containing essential oils as they may further irritate your skin. If your skin is very painful, or you are experiencing symptoms other than mild pain and redness, especially symptoms of heatstroke, please consult a medical professional as soon as possible.
- American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2019. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2019.