It’s summertime, which means long days at the beach or pool, if you’re lucky. It also means you need to be up on your sunburn treatment, due to stronger UV rays and the potential for a lot of skin damage—a pesky side effect of those fun-in-the-sun days. Despite your best efforts to stay safe and protected as you play outside, the reality is that we all suffer sunburns from time to time. Even though it’s no secret that your chances of developing skin cancer double if you have had five or more sunburns, the numbers are still climbing. “In a recent survey conducted in partnership with iVillage, The Skin Cancer Foundation learned that 42 percent of people polled get a sunburn at least once a year.”
Clearly the number one goal should be to avoid sunburns in the future and to protect your skin against future damage. But what about once the damage is done? When you’re stuck with that itchy, burning, unpleasant red burn, what do you do? Luckily there are several home remedies and DIY treatments that can help ease your discomfort and speed up the skin’s healing process. While none of these natural treatments can reverse the effects of your sunburn, and you definitely need to be more careful moving forward, here are some easy ways to make that burn feel a little better.
It’s no secret that aloe has soothing effects as sunburn treatment, but beyond that, Dr. Rodney Basler, MD, explains “we’re starting to see evidence in medical literature that aloe vera may really help wound healing.” You can apply the juice from inside the cactus plant’s leaf, or you can buy aloe vera gel at your local drugstore.
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When mixed in your bath water ground oatmeal has soothing properties and works as an anti-inflammatory agent. You may have used an oatmeal bath when you were a kid with chicken pox; it works in the same way if you get a bad sunburn that is itchy and irritated.
A cold milk compress not only feels great, but it also soothes your skin and reduces redness and heat (if you’ve ever had a bad sunburn you know the feeling of heat radiating off your skin). Simply soak a washcloth or cotton swaps in cool milk mixed with water and apply for 15-20 minutes until your burn feels a little better.
This topical astringent is a natural remedy to treat skin irritations such as a sunburn. Applying a mixture of witch hazel with aloe vera gel will not only cool down your burn but it can also help prevent pealing of the skin as the burn heals.
Before you overlook this sunburn remedy, hear us out. Potatoes have soothing and healing properties, and this paste is easy to make. Simply blend cut-up potato (including the peel) in a blender, or use a grater and try to extra as much pulp as possible as you work. Apply the liquid onto your burn for instant relief.
Mix some cornstarch with cool water to create a pasty consistency that almost resembles a cream. Apply this paste over your burn (don’t be shy) and let this magic concoction work its magic. Cornstarch has the ability to reduce redness and inflammation, and lessen your skin pain.
It seems so obvious, but if you get a sunburn then your skin and your body are both dehydrated. Rehydrate from the inside out by drinking a lot of water to replenish your skin and counteract the drying effects of the sunburn. You might also want to increase your intake of hydrating foods (think watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber etc.) to help those efforts.
As you hydrate from the inside, you also need to hydrate your skin on the outside was well. Apply moisturizer regularly to heal damaged skin as it heals. While the other treatments may help to soothe the effects of the burn, only moisturizer and healing ointment can actually help repair the damage you’ve done.