It’s hard to resist soaking up the sun. But lounging outdoors can come with a price—no matter how careful you may be. You know the importance of sunscreen, how to apply it properly, and the body parts you usually forget about—yet burns may still happen.
Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true home remedies that can soothe your stinging skin. But remember: Repeated sunburns increase the risk of cancer. As Health Canada recommends, make sure to slather on sunscreen and wear proper protection the next time you venture into the sun, and limit your exposure.
Here, seven ways to treat a sunburn:
1) Use a cold (but not icy) compress to soothe the sting.
For immediate sunburn relief, soak the sunburned area in cold water (but not ice water) or with a cold compress for 15 minutes. The cold reduces swelling and wicks away heat from your skin. You can also use vegetables as a compress. Rub the area gently with chilled sliced cucumber or potato—they contain compounds that cool the burn and help reduce swelling.
2) Use green tea to protect the skin.
Brew a pot of green tea, let cool, make a compress, and then apply it to the sunburned area. The tea contains ingredients that help protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation damage and reduce inflammation.
3) Use peppermint to cool the skin.
The cooling, aromatic qualities of peppermint can quell the scorch of a sunburn. Make peppermint tea or mix two drops of peppermint oil with a cup of lukewarm water. Chill it, and use a clean cloth to make a compress for the sunburned area.
4) Soak in a bath with oatmeal if you’re burned all over.
Buy a colloidal oatmeal product (such as Aveeno’s Soothing Bath Treatment) or grind up a cup of oatmeal in a food processor and add it to your bath when running the water.
5) Use vinegar for an itchy burn.
Vinegar contains acetic acid, one of the components of medications like aspirin. It can help with sunburn relief, skin itching and inflammation. Soak a few sheets of paper towels in white vinegar, and apply them to the sunburned areas. Leave them on until the towels are dry and repeat as needed. Burned all over? Run a bath with cool water and add two cups of vinegar before getting in. (Learn other reasons to use vinegar on your skin.)
6) Use cornstarch to prevent painful chafing.
Sprinkle your sheets with cornstarch to minimize painful chafing. (Warning: You’ll have to wash the sheets afterwards.)
7) Use aloe to soothe, treat and calm skin.
Apply a light coating of pure aloe vera to the sunburned skin. (Did you know the plant has tons of other healing benefits?) Use either a fresh piece from the plant or 100% pure aloe vera in a gel form from the drugstore (like Premium Nature’s 100% Organic Aloe Vera Gel for Face and Body).
Source: Adapted from 1801 Home Remedies, Reader’s Digest