13 Natural Remedies for Sunburn

sunburned woman

We should always try to avoid getting a sunburn even though, at times, the power of the sun can unexpectedly sneak up. The redness, irritation, peeling, pain, swelling, and unsightly blisters… sunburns can last from 3-7 days, and are highly uncomfortable. Sunburns are actually acute inflammation of the skin cells, caused by ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Many people are unaware that the chemicals they put on their skin can cause sun exposure to produce irritation. When sunburn does occur, nature offers us many cooling, soothing remedies to take away the sting and bite.

Natural Remedies for Sunburn:

  1. Aloe Vera Gel or Cream. One of the best and quickest remedies for mild sunburn, this African plant can soothe and calm burns. Aloe Vera also helps to heal wounds and preventing scarring. Rub the natural form of the gel (available in many health food stores, or even better, buy an aloe plant for your home) into the location of the burn and leave on the skin. Reapply as necessary. On a side note, aloe vera juice also has many health benefits when taken internally.
  2. Coconut Oi.l A cooling oil that soothes burns, rub coconut oil onto the affected location.
  3. Milk. Many people are unaware of the cooling properties of milk. If aloe vera gel is unavailable, dip a gauze pad into milk and apply it directly to the sunburn.
  4. Hydrotherapy. Taking a short, lukewarm bath, or using cool towel compresses aids in keeping the burn moist and cool. Do NOT use hot water, as this further strips the already damaged oils from the skin.
  5. Ozontated Olive Oil. Gently rub the ozonated olive oil paste on the sunburned area and let sit. This will help the area heal without blistering and/or peeling. O2-Zap works great for this.
  6. Increase Water Intake. A sunburn dehydrates the insides of the body, as our natural healing mechanisms attempt to bring more moisture to the burned area. Stay hydrated to avoid the headaches and fatigue that may accompany a sunburn.
  7. Sandalwood and Turmeric Paste. An ancient Ayurvedic remedy, these herbs have a cooling affect on the skin. Mix equal amounts of these two herbs with a little cool water. Apply to sunburned area and leave for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Vinegar. White vinegar has been known to ease the pain of a sunburn when applied to the skin. Apply to the skin as a compress, using a small towel soaked in a mixture of water and vinegar. I would NOT recommend using apple cider vinegar, instead of white vinegar.
  9. Eat More Sunflower Seeds. Studies show that increased intake of Vitamin E foods can help decrease the discomfort of a sunburn. Sunflower seeds, as well as many other seeds, are full of Vitamin E. Other foods that are high in Vitamin E include wheat germ, soybean oil and most raw nuts. You can also rub vitamin E on the burn to cool the area.
  10. Use Cooling Essential Oils. You can quickly relieve a burn by soaking a wet towel in water containing several drops of cooling essential oils. Oils that reduce burns include lavender, sandalwood, chamomile, eucalyptus, rose hips, and buckthorn essential oils. They can also be directly added to a warm bath.
  11. Fresh Air. Bask in the moonlight! Burns heal quicker in the fresh air, than wrapped in bandages, which can cause the burn to hold more heat in.

Do you have a natural remedy you use to help with sunburns? If so, I want to hear it. Drop a comment below and let me know what you do for relieving sunburns.

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

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  • Julie Greco

    I’ve heard that tannin in tea helps to soothe some of the discomfort of sunburned skin. Brew a big pot of tea, and let it cool completely, then pour it into a spray bottle and spray it on the affected area. Have not tried it though to see if it works.

  • Soy Candles

    I have heard that putting lotion on the skin after a sunburn is actually not good. Is this true?
    I suppose the thought is that the lotion will keep the heat in or something. One thing for sure is sometimes a cold pack or icepack feels great on a sunburn. Usually we use aloe vera.
    Thanks.

  • http://www.ghchealth.com/natural-health/meet-dr-group/ Dr. Edward Group

    Yes this is true, you want the heat to be released. Aloe also works great. I recommend the product AquaSpirit which I developed for skin hydration.

    Although the best remedy would be to avoid sunburn by paying attention to the conditions and limiting time in direct mid day sunlight.

    –Dr. G

  • Adele

    Great Article !!! do you know of any natural remedies for mosquito bite’s or even a natural repellent you can apply to the skin?

  • http://www.ghchealth.com/natural-health/meet-dr-group/ Dr. Edward Group

    For mosquito bites lavender oil works good. Also Himalayan crystal salt, lemon juice or organic raw apple cider vinegar. I have not yet found a good spray on organic formula.

    –Dr. G

  • steve

    Here’s a real good one. I used a product that I got in Hawaii. It is called… get this… Maui Aui. It has Aloe, Caledula for the skin and white willow for the pain and st. john’s wort for the itch. It’s great through the hurting,itching pealing phases and I think it made me heal faster. It sure made things feel better. It wasn’t very expensive, $8 or $9 if I remember correctly and it was WELL worth it. There was no phone number on it but the company name says Nature’s Rite. This stuff is like Natural Solarcaine. with aloe and skin regenerator. It’s really cool.

  • Marge Israel

    Try the tannin, and then try just the coolness of water. See which works better.

  • Marge Israel

    Tannin works good. but, try just the coolness of water alone. It also works good.

  • Sandy

    You mentioned Aloe for “mild” sunburns, but I have used Aloe right from the leaf on very painful 2nd degree sunburns with great success, far above anything else I’ve ever seen. Most of the pain was gone in 24 hours, and in 3 days the redness was completely gone with no blistering.

  • lea

    dont use apple cider vinegar? why not? this is what my gma used to do, kills the hurt VERY well….yeah it isnt pleasant to apply, but it WORKS…takes the heat out completely. you just have to sit in front of a fan while you apply.

    i have tried all the other stuff you rec, none of those work as well as the cider vinegar. lettuce? lettuce? are you for real?

  • http://dewlillydesign.com/ Anne

    A glass of fresh carrot juice before going out in the sun will help prevent sunburn (protects against UV damage) as well.

  • Kellil

    Great list of sunburn cures!

  • Kay

    I’ve used Calendula Oil successfully for sunburns and other minor burns. It’s soothing and takes the discomfort away quickly.

  • Brad

    I’ve used tea a lot of times. Brew twice as strong nas you would if you were going to drink it, NO suger. Chill in frig and us wash cloth dipped in tea, lightly wrung out. place on burn and redip as needed. Takes the fire right out of the burn and it seems to heal a lot quiker.

  • S.

    2 points from the medical community. First, your oil, etc. remedies smack of the old “remedy” of putting butter on a burn. This only makes the burn worse as it keeps the heat in, progressing the damage.
    Second, vinegar remedies are effective for the pain because it kills the nerve endings that are causing the pain, so you have simply added to your health problems, while addressing only a symptom-pain.
    On a site such as this, I think readers are interested in whole health, not just getting rid of symptoms. While I love to hear folk remedies, I think the complete information is also necessary. Just my opinion. (though I have noticed that you are careful about avoiding liability in your wording-kudos-readers have responsibilities too.)

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