While there may be few of us who don’t love the feel of sunshine on our skin, if you’ve ever had a sunburn, you know firsthand just how painful it can be when you don’t adequately protect yourself. Pain associated with sunburned skin can make even the most basic activities — mobility throughout burned areas, wearing clothes, showering, or laying down to sleep — incredibly uncomfortable.
The best and healthiest way to prevent sunburn pain is to avoid a sunburn altogether. Always use sunscreen when you are going out in the daytime, even if the sky is cloudy. Stay in the shade and wear protective clothing. If you do get a sunburn, only time can make it go away, but you can help relieve the pain with natural ingredients.
Here are some of your best natural options for sunburn pain relief:
Juice straight from an aloe plant is the best form to use on your sunburn. To access the juice, slit open an aloe leaf and use a spoon to extract the liquid from inside before applying it to the burned area. If you don’t have access to an aloe plant or need to cover a larger surface area, you can find all-natural aloe vera gel in many stores and pharmacies.
2. Coconut Oil
The fats found in coconut oil can help protect and soften burned skin. To use coconut oil on a sunburn, first cool the area with cool (but not cold) water, using a damp cloth or in a bath or shower. Then apply the coconut oil to the affected area. It will gradually absorb into the skin and soothe the burn.
Oatmeal is a common natural remedy for soothing skin irritation. For a sunburn, you can create a paste with ground-up rolled oats, milk, and honey to apply to the area. Alternatively, you can create a sachet of ground oatmeal using a tied-off sock or cheesecloth and let it steep in a tepid bath. (Note: Don’t put loose oats in the bath unless you want to scrub a big mess out of the tub later!) Relax in the bath and let the oatmeal-infused water work on your skin, squeezing the sachet occasionally to extract more of its essence into the water.
4. Witch Hazel or Tea
Witch hazel and tea both contain tannins, a natural compound which can help reduce inflammation, making them great choices to use topically on a sunburn. Create a compress by pouring witch hazel or cooled tea (made from black or green tea leaves) onto a clean cloth and then apply it to the sunburned area. Leave the cloth in place, and reapply the tea or witch hazel as needed. For an extra cooling effect, add mint leaves when you brew tea for this purpose.
5. Baking Soda or Cornstarch
There are multiple ways to treat sunburn pain using baking soda or cornstarch. You can create a paste using water and either baking soda or cornstarch and apply it gently to the sunburned area. You also can put baking soda in a lukewarm bath and soak in it for sunburn relief. Dusting your skin with cornstarch is another way to use it and though it might be a bit messy, it reduces painful friction between your sunburned skin and clothes, making it easier to get dressed and to sleep on sheets.
Sunburned skin gets dry, and you may also have gotten a bit dehydrated while you were out in the sun. Drink water and eat hydrating foods, including juicy fruits such as grapes, watermelon, or oranges.
Save Your Skin
Sunburns aren’t just a source of temporary pain — excessive sun exposure damages your skin permanently. Over time, this can result in changes in skin texture, dark spots, wrinkles, and potentially skin cancer. If your sunburn is accompanied by blisters, nausea, dizziness, fever, or chills, contact your doctor immediately as these may be symptoms of a serious condition known as sun poisoning.
Even if you avoid sunburns, it is important to have a doctor perform a skin check-up and skin cancer screening at least once a year. Skin cancer is highly treatable in its early stages, but early detection is the key to success. Contact your doctor for a skin check-up today!