Home Remedies for Sunburn

home remedies for sunburn

Those nice 75-degree weather days may perfect a tan during the summertime, but depending on the circumstances – many sunbathers and outdoorsy folks are sent home with the all-too-familiar sunburn. Sunburns are red or pink in color and painful to the touch. While some sunburn cases clear up in a few days, others must wait several weeks for the symptoms to fade.

Causes and ghr-sunburnSymptoms

Sunburns appear when the skin encounters too much ultraviolet (UV) light, which speeds up the production of melanin – the dark pigment found in the epidermis that contributes to your normal skin color. In normal amounts, melanin leads to a suntan, but once the body’s genetic limitations are surpassed – a sunburn occurs. This condition can affect any part of the body – your scalp, earlobes, lips, and even your eyes, which can become painful and gritty.

Generally, a sunburn emerges a couple of hours after being exposed to the sun. Symptoms include:

  • Red or pink skin
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Skin that feels warm or hot when touched
  • Swelling
  • Small blisters filled with fluid
  • In severe cases – headache and fever

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be a sunny day for powerful rays to affect the skin. UV light can even penetrate through cloudy skies. You should also keep in mind that commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds use ultraviolet light, which can cause sunburn.

Sunburn Home Remedies

Sunburned skin places an individual in danger of developing additional complications and other related skin conditions, like premature wrinkles, actinic keratoses, skin cancer, and liver spots. However, there are plenty of ways to attack the problem without even leaving the comforts of your own home. When looking for home remedies to relieve the pain of sunburn, as well as speed up the healing of your skin, consider the following suggestions:

a) Aloe Vera:

For soothing relief, apply the gel from the leaves of the aloe vera plant to sunburn when needed.

b) Calendula [1]:

Infuse one heaping tablespoon of calendula herb into one cup of water. Strain the contents, and let cool. Apply as a lotion to your sunburn.

c) Bathtub Soaks:

Fill your bathtub with lukewarm water and add one cup of white cider vinegar. Soak in the mixture to ease the discomfort of sunburn. Another method of treating sunburn at home is to add a mixture of 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of cornstarch to a tub filled with lukewarm water. Soak yourself to gain relief.

d) Oatmeal:

We’ve all heard of the healing properties of oatmeal. Wrap dry oatmeal in a wad of gauze or cheesecloth, followed by running cool water through it. Wring out the excess water and apply the compress to sunburned skin for 20 minutes every two to four hours.

e) Pop an Aspirin:

Anti-inflammatory medication, such as aspirin or ibuprofen can alleviate the redness and discomfort of sunburn. Consider stocking your cabinet with Advil or Motrin[2].

f) Cool Compress:

Dampen a towel with cool tap water and apply to sunburned skin.

g) Hydrocortisone Cream[3]:

If you’re lucky, then you have a tube of hydrocortisone cream hidden in the back of your medicine cabinet for when you wish to decrease pain and swelling. This home remedy also helps boost the healing process. However, make sure that you use a low dose, like 0.5 % to 1%.

h) Baby Wipes:

Baby wipes sure come in handy when you’re fighting sunburn. Pat affected areas for a temporary cooling effect.

i) Mayonnaise [4]:

Treat dry, sunburned skin by applying mayonnaise to affected body parts. Not only will you enjoy pain relief, but also moisturized skin.

j) Tea Bags:

Apply a couple of wet tea bags to sunburned skin to lessen the sting of overexposure to the sun. If you’ve really overdone it, add a couple tea bags to your bathwater and soak your entire body.

k) Drink Water:

Drinking plenty of fluids can help prevent dehydrated skin, which comes with excessive sun exposure and heat.

l) Yogurt:

Need a quick fix? Treat mild sunburn with cold, plain yogurt. The coldness of the product provides relief, while also delivering helpful moisture to damaged skin. Rinse with cool water after the soothing effects have passed.

m) Vegetables:

For a sunburned forearm, try applying thinly sliced pieces of raw cucumber, potato, or apple. The coolness helps soothe and lessen inflammation of the skin. You may also use a bag of frozen corn or peas wrapped in a towel to ease the pain of sunburn. Make sure that you don’t apply the frozen vegetables directly to your skin or you will only make matters worse.

n) Milk:

Dip gauze into a saucer filled with room temperature milk and apply to sunburned skin. Allow the milk compress to sit on the burn for about 20 minutes. Repeat this home treatment every two to four hours.


[1] The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallier; pg 303

[2] http://www.motrin.com/

[3] http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682793.html

[4] Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things by Reader’s Digest; pg 209



  • Ryan

    I have done the oatmeal bath for poison oak and sunburns, and can tell you it works. You feel at bit nasty dipping into it, but afterwards you can move or sleep without the pain.

  • Catherine

    Unrefined coconut oil not only prevents sunburn, but if you have a sunburn it makes a quick retreat. Recently we went skiing and my daughter-in-law was burned pretty bad on her face. That evening she heard about how the rest of us on the ski trip had applied coconut oil and never got burned. She rubbed some on her face and walah! By the next morning all the redness was gone. Coconut oil is amazing for many remedies, plus a healthy thing to keep in your diet.

  • roxie

    Sounds weird but if you have a head of lettuce in the fridge…boil some of it in a pot of water. Strain the leaves out and keep the liquid that is left behind. Cool it for a couple of hours by putting it in the fridge. Use cotton balls to slather it on to your sunburn. My Nana swears by it. Trust me…it works for me.

  • erika


  • Melanie

    White vinegar in a spray bottle. As long as there are not blisters….spray on, do not rub in! Let it dry on. Soothes perfectly and you’ll have a toasty warm tan in just a couple days!

  • random guy

    i have found that taking a hot shower (it hurts but read on) will help reduce sunburn quickly. it opens up the pores in the skin and releases the ultra violet radiation causing the burn. a BIG plus to this method is that the skin doesn’t peel afterwards. my friend and i both do this and it works for us

  • ginger power

    I am a natural born redhead and i know that with a fair complextion it is hard in te sun, but when i get burned i reccomend pleanty of water, sleep and cool baths.The most important thing is to wear sunblock, I reccomend coppertone sport.

  • Sherrie

    This has been a never fail treatment for our family, 3 kids ages 14, 4 and 2 as well. Baking soda (about a half cup) into lukewarm bath water. You take a giant plastic cup, fill it with the water and cover it with a wash cloth. Then carefully invert the cup onto your head and allow the water to gently flow over the head and body as you sit in the tub. This allows the heat to be drawn up out of your head and soothes the body as the water gently flows over your body. It pulls a sun induced headache and all of the aches right out of you.

    A neighbor gave us this suggestion when we first moved to Florida. She said an aunt from Europe gave the effective suggestion to her.