Dealing with the summer heat is one thing. You can stay inside in the air conditioning, or you can lead to the local water park for some cool fun. But if you do venture outside, it’s important to remember that the sun shows no mercy when it comes to sunburns.
And getting a really bad one can ruin your whole summer. The first step to any sunburn is prevention: get that SPF lotion on all the exposed parts of your body. But on the off-chance you forgot to use it, then there are home remedies you can use to help alleviate the pain of a sunburn. Some tricks will reduce the inflammation and redness of your skin.
1. More Prone than Others
It might seem strange that some people get sunburned more quickly than others. After all, the sun shines down on everyone. But there are genetic factors in play that make some people more susceptible to UV light than others.
For example, people with light skin, blue eyes, and red/blonde hair are more likely to get sunburned than other people. If you’re outside in the hot sun drinking alcohol, then you increase your chances further as you’re dehydrating your skin. There are many factors in play when it comes to who will and won’t get sunburned, but it’s still advised that you protect your skin regardless.
Let’s face it; sunburns are painful and obviously bad for your skin. However, the redness and burning effect is not the only damage that’s being done to your skin. Repeated sunburns cause severe damage to the tissues of the skin.
Some of that damage includes the weakening of the connective tissues (your skin loses its elasticity), deep wrinkles, rough and dry skin, and dark, discolored spots on the face, arms, and chest. In extreme cases, repeated sunburns increase your risk for skin cancer.
Some medications can make you more sensitive to light exposure. This means that your skin is more reactive to UVB light, so you’ll burn more easily.
Talk to your doctor about any medications you’re taking and ask if there are any such side effects. Knowing beforehand means that you should double up on your SPF sunblock so that you don’t come away with a sunburn.
One of the first signs that many people notice is that their skin looks redder than usual and stings to the touch. The skin will also feel warm or hot. Putting on sunblock now is too late because the damage has already been done. However, if you are going to stay outside, you should still apply sunscreen to help reduce the severity.
Other symptoms that may show up later after the initial sunburn include swelling and itching. It can be tempting to start scratching for relief, but that will only expose the raw flesh underneath, which can lead to an infection.
Severe sunburns will have blisters forming on the skin that are filled with fluid. Whatever you do, don’t try and burst them. This action will further increase your risk of infection.
The best thing to do is to leave them alone until they heal. If the blisters do accidentally rupture, apply some antibacterial ointment to the area and place a band-aid on it. Otherwise, you should seek medical attention to help deal with these blisters.
You may think that wearing clothes protects you from sunburn, but that’s actually not the case. You can still get sunburned if the weave of the fabric is too loose.
This material lets UVB light through to the skin so you can still get sunburned even under your clothing. The only way to help prevent sunburn with clothing is to wear apparel that has a tight weave so that your skin is protected.
Another popular myth about sunburns is that swimming in a pool or the ocean will protect your skin from the sun’s powerful rays. But just because your skin feels fresh from the water doesn’t mean that you’re not getting sunburned.
Water does nothing to save your skin from UVB light, as it just goes right through it. If you are going to go swimming, you should use an SPF product that is also waterproof so that it doesn’t wash off in the water.
Your skin isn’t the only thing that can get sunburned — the eyes are at risk too. However, this isn’t a suggestion to start squirting sunblock into your eyes. Sunburned eyes are actually caused by damage to the retinas, lens, or cornea.
Invest in a pair of shades that has a UV rating on them to know how well they’ll protect your eyes. Symptoms of sunburned eyes include feeling gritty and burning. If you have light-colored eyes such as blue you should start wearing sunglasses at a young age every time you wear sunscreen to prevent burning over the years.
One strange home remedy for a sunburn that really works is pouring a cup of apple cider vinegar into a cool bath. It balances the acidity or alkalinity of your sunburned skin by bringing it to a neutral state.
This remedy promotes the healing of the skin without any scarring if your sunburn is really bad. It might leave you smelling a little funny, but a quick shower with some soap easily gets rid of the scent. It’s best to soak in the bath for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
Another home product that neutralizes the pH of the skin is baking soda. Just add 2 cups of it to some lukewarm bathwater and relax.
It will feel a little gritty against your skin, but it works excellent and eliminating the redness and irritation of your skin. Try this a few times once a day, and you’ll notice the burn slowly going away.
If you really want a soak you don’t mind lounging around in, you can make it feel like more of a spa treatment with some essential oils. Chamomile and lavender work best and reducing irritation and redness, and help you to relax as well.
Add a few drops or more, as much as you like, and submerge yourself. You’ll soon start to feel the soothing effects in no time.
Ready for another strange recommendation for your sunburn? You may not have this lying around, but it’s not that hard to get your hands on.
We’re talking oatmeal. Yes, that whole grain stuff that people put in bread and make porridge. Dump a couple of bags into your fresh bath and slip in. Oatmeal works well at reducing the itchiness of reddened skin, especially sunburns.
Maybe you don’t have oatmeal or apple cider vinegar sitting around your home. Even if you don’t have any handy home remedies for a sunburn, a simple soak in cool bath water is enough to relieve the pain.
You can do this for as long as you’re experiencing discomfort from your sunburn. We promise that there are no avid side effects, aside from pruned skin. Besides, you should avoid a shower with a pounding spray that only hurts your skin more.
If bath soaks aren’t your thing, there are other ways you can take care of the pain. A cold compress does the trick, as long as you don’t make it too cold and shock your skin. Soak a small washcloth in cold water and wring it out until it’s damp.
Then press the washcloth against your skin for a few minutes at a time. You will need to refresh the cool water over and over again, depending on how extensive your sunburn is.
Look for lotions or salves that contain Aloe Vera. It’s known for being a very soothing ingredient and will keep the skin moisturized to minimize peeling.
Aloe Vera is one of the most common ingredients in treatments for sunburns, but if you have a plant at home, it doesn’t hurt to tear off one leaf and slather the gel across your burn. There’s no such thing as using too much either, but your plant may not appreciate all of its leaves being torn off.
You may never expect for something called witch hazel to take care of your skin, but it actually works wonders. It’s also used for mosquito and tick bites that can be quite itchy and will reduce inflammation.
Just apply a few drops of it to a cotton ball and rub it onto the area very gently. Very quickly, you’ll start to feel the soothing relief on your skin.
And we’re not talking about for drinking. Black tea is perfect for relieving skin conditions due to the amount of tannic acid that is present.
The tannic acid is what draws heat from the sunburned skin and returns the pH balance of the skin to normal. Just boil a few bags of black tea and allow it to cool before applying it to the skin. You could even add some mint for a more soothing effect.
Cucumbers are great at moisturizing the areas around your eyes, but did you know that they’re also great at dealing with sunburns? So if you’re making a salad during the summer, save a few slices in case you end up with some painful blotchy skin.
Cucumbers are a natural antioxidant and analgesic, meaning that it relieves pain. Just chill a few slices in the fridge, then put them into your blender to turn them into a paste. Apply it to the sunburned areas of your body for instant cooling relief.
Trying to drink milk fast enough so that the stuff you have doesn’t spoil in the fridge can feel like a lesson in futility. But during the summer months, you can really put that milk to use in keeping the sting away.
Soak a washcloth in some cool, not cold, milk and apply it to your sunburned skin. The protein in the milk will actually create a film over the skin, which helps to ease the discomfort of sunburn. This home remedy works well with cow’s milk, as well as any nut milk.
Potatoes are some of the most impressive starches in the world. You can eat them whole, baked, fried, mashed — there’s no bad way to have a potato.
So if you have some lying around during the summer, you have one home remedy for sunburns at your disposal. Boil and mash a few potatoes and then place it in the fridge to cool. Apply it to the sunburned areas of your skin to draw out the heat so that your pain is reduced. This trick also promotes healing, so you won’t have terrible scars left afterward.
Cornstarch is usually used to thicken gravy or any other liquid. So if you love cooking in the home, you likely already have this in your cupboards.
Mix a little cornstarch with water to create a paste and then apply directly to the sunburned areas of your skin. No side effects with this treatment and you can easily wash it off with some lukewarm water once it dries out.
This plan isn’t an at-home remedy if you don’t already have these in your cabinet. A few OTC pain relievers are great at taking care of pain and inflammation.
Products containing ibuprofen or naproxen work wonders are relieving sunburn pain and the inflammation that comes with it. They’re not going to reduce the redness of your skin, though, but at least you’ll be a little more comfortable.
With sunburns comes itchy, flaky skin. Your body is trying to get rid of the damaged parts of your skin, and it can be very tempting to start peeling it off.
But that’s the worst thing you can do. To alleviate the itch, you can apply some hydrocortisone cream to the area. The itching will stop, and it will also reduce the swelling and pain that comes with sunburns.
Most sunburn ointments possess lidocaine, which is a great numbing agent that is used by many medical doctors. It is also used in surgery and the treatment of internal conditions that require the numbing of the area.
Lidocaine is generally pretty safe and can be applied topically to the skin with little to no side effects. Combining lidocaine with aloe vera both numbs the pain and cools the area.
You can take care of your sunburn from the inside out by staying hydrated during the hot summer months. Drink a lot of water or sports drinks with electrolytes to replace any fluid you lose through your skin.
This doesn’t mean that drinking a lot of water will prevent sunburns from occurring. But it will help the healing process by keeping your skin moisturized so that it doesn’t itch as much.
It’s best not to use lotions while your skin is still hot and tender. Once it’s cool, you can then apply some to your skin to minimize the peeling.
Both vitamins E and C are antioxidants that can decrease the inflammation of the skin, making it less red over time. You can look for lotions that have these vitamins in them, or you can take supplements directly to keep your skin looking its best.
The rays of the sun are hottest and brightest during the hours of 10 am to 4 pm. You should avoid going outside during these hours, but if you do, wear sunscreen.
Don’t think that a cloudy day is going to save you either. Clouds do nothing to prevent UVB light from getting to your skin, and you can still get sunburned on a cloudy day. Don’t risk it and cover up with some sunblock.
SPF 15 feels like a sound option to make, but you’d be surprised that that’s not going to do anything for you. Most doctors recommend at least SPF 30 or higher if you want to prevent sunburns from occurring.
This advice is because SPF 30 blocks half the amount of radiation as SPF 15, meaning that you’re less likely to get burned. You will have to reapply it every two hours or so to maintain the same level of protection, however, so take your sunblock with you if you’re away from home.
If you notice any dark spots on your skin that weren’t there before, it would be a good idea to head to a dermatologist. It could be a mutating mole or a small growth of skin cancer.
Don’t panic when you spot one; these are easy to take care of in the early stages before they develop into tumors. You can make an appointment to remove them; sometimes even through walk-ins, which means no recovery time on your part.