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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. Iโ€™m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything weโ€™ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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July 26 2011

7 Home Remedies to Relieve a Sunburn

By Mark Sisson
126 Comments

People who like to say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure are smug jerks, especially when it comes to sunburns. While they were eating spoonfuls of tomato paste, canned flamingo, and fish oil, nibbling on grape seeds, using portable vitamin D test kits, and smearing green tea all over their bodies, sure, they didn’t get burned, but were they really living? Because you sure were. You were out there in the sun, just basking in it, arms outstretched to accept its vibrant rays like it was a commercial for a venereal disease medication. You may have gotten a little baked, a little too much color, but it was well worth it… right?

Well, now you’ve gotta deal with this sunburn business. It’s red, it hurts, it’s veritably unhealthy, and you’re about to start peeling. What do you do? How can you soothe the flaming epidermis? How can you halt, or perhaps even reverse the damage before it gets out of hand?

Recent research has apparently found the culprit responsible for a sunburn’s pain: an inflammatory molecule called CXCL5. CXCL5 is a chemokine, a protein that recruits inflammatory immune cells to damaged tissue. In sunburned tissue, researchers found that CXCL5 was present in large quantities. Later, they found that as sunburned rats healed, an antibody began specifically targeting and reducing CXCL5 levels. This reduced pain. As of now, there exists no known home remedy (or pharmaceutical remedy) for triggering CXCL5 antibodies – if that’s even something we want to mess around with, since pain exists for a reason – but there are many home remedies for dealing with the pain.

Yes, home remedies for sunburns are plentiful, but few have anything to back them up but hearsay and anecdote. Anecdote can be incredibly useful (I’ve included some of the more interesting ones below), but let’s also take a look to see which remedies, if any, have supporting evidence.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is the classic remedy. You get a bad sunburn and almost anyone’s initial response is “Apply some aloe.” Is this advice warranted? Well, the actual aloe vera plant has over two millennia of history as a medicine across many traditional cultures spanning multiple regions, including China, India, Latin America, Japan, Russia, and Africa. Modern research has confirmed its effects on blood lipids, glucose tolerance, wound healing (has been shown to slow and speed up healing rates in different studies), and first- and second-degree burn recovery, but, strangely enough, not on sunburn. It neither prevents nor heals sunburns. That said, it does appear to soothe the pain associated with sunburns, so go ahead and apply away.

Kukui Nut Oil

The kukui tree was introduced to the Hawaiian islands roughly 1,500 years ago by early Polynesian explorers. It was henceforth and hitherto employed by the islands’ inhabitants in both medical and nonmedical arenas, in particular the oil from the kukui nut. Kukui nut oil was used as fuel, as a laxative, as a topical joint pain and arthritis reliever, and, most famously, as a reliever of skin conditions – including sunburn. The oil’s efficacy has never been “proven,” but I think 1,500 years of steady use (PDF) by a sunbaked population with extensive sunburn experience elevates kukui nut oil bey0nd mere anecdote.

Topical Vitamin E

Another popular remedy is to break open capsules of vitamin E and rub it into the affected area of the skin. Does it work? Perhaps so. One study on hairless mice exposed to UVB found that applying a common vitamin E supplement (tocopherol acetate) to the skin immediately after exposure lessened the sun damage. Even applying the vitamin E eight hours after exposure helped, but the effect was reduced the longer they waited.

Topical Black Tea

Last week, I mentioned how the polyphenols in tea leaves can improve your skin’s resistance to UV radiation when they’re ingested, but it appears that topical tea application can soothe and perhaps speed up the healing of sunburns. For a detailed tutorial on how to do it, check out this great article on Instructables (complete with detailed pictures). I’ve also heard good things about sharing a cool bath with several tea bags, and I’ve got a friend who saves all her used tea bags for topical application during the summer months. She’ll soak them for ten seconds in cool water, and then just slap them on to the burn.

Milk

You don’t have to be a lacto-paleo to embrace the topical benefits of dairy, according to one dermatologist. She recommends applying cool (“not cold”) milk to your sunburns, using gauze or clean cloth, and claims that “the milk will create a protein film that helps ease the discomfort.” I would imagine grass-fed, raw milk from Jersey cows with A2 casein would work best (I never saw a sunburnt Masai!), but it probably isn’t required.

Vinegar

One part vinegar to one part water, mixed together in a spray bottle and applied directly to the sunburn is supposed to be an effective sunburn relief treatment. A few glugs added to a cool bath is another common one. Unfortunately, I could find no supporting research for this one, but it appeared on enough “sunburn home remedy” lists that I figured there may be something to it. Anyone try it out themselves?

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can seemingly do it all. Numerous readers use it as sunblock, and just as many use it to soothe already established burns. I recall Bear Grylls smearing smashed coconut all over his face and arms to prevent and soothe sunburn during an episode of Man v. Wild, so perhaps there’s something to it.

I wish there were more definitive answers for this one, but I fear that smug “an ounce of prevention” jerk may be right this time.

What are your tried and true home remedies for a bad sunburn? I’m consistently impressed with the advice and insights you guys dole out in the comment section and in emails, so let’s hear what you’ve got. What works? What doesn’t? Let me know, and thanks for reading!

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126 thoughts on “7 Home Remedies to Relieve a Sunburn”

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  1. I have always used Aloe Vera!!! Put it on to sooth the pain and it seems like the next morning the sunburn is already reduced in redness and pain!! I swear by it!

    Now I spend more time getting my sun rays in, eating right and spending time in the shade to prevent said sunburn!! Pasty white girl here….sunburns come easy and they suck!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I did a controlled test with Aloe vs cocoa butter cream vs nothing in an equally burned spot on my skin. I reapplied the aloe fresh off the plant and the cream twice a day. There was no difference in pain, or healing time with any of the three areas.

    I don’t think there is anything that will do the trick and I think Hawaiians probably have a little more built-in protection than my Irish French German ancestry in any case.

    1. Ive heard that aloe juice straight from the plant can be a little too caustic for our skin. Have you had any problems with it vs processed aloe extract?

        1. This is a general comment in the thread–the reply link doesn’t show up for me to comment last.

          Google says that aloe’s pH is 4-6. The general consensus is that it’s “alkaline forming”, encouraging acid neutralization when ingested. I assume it’s a side-effect of being more basic than stomach acid (but still an acid; corrosive, but not caustic).

          Topically, aloe’s pH is weakly acidic (like vinegar, or acetic acid), not alakai (like lye, or caustic soda). Also all over the web, weak acids are used to some benefit for various skin conditions.

      1. Every time Ive put aloe Vera from the plant on my skin, especially my face, it burns and I get a rash where I applied it. I could just be allergic to it though.

        It was applied without having a sunburn too!

  3. I always use vinegar. I grew up in Florida and with the nickname “fish-belly” I got burned a lot when I was younger. I actually pour it directly onto the skin and let it dry. I’ve found that it soothes the burn and it tends not to blister.

  4. When I was a kid the first thing my mom did when I burned (which was fairly frequent) was wash it with vinegar and, once that dried apply aloe vera. Seemed to work well enough. I don’t burn as much as I used to and now they tend to be so minor that I just bear with it.

  5. What about healing from within? The foods we eat play a big part in pain management and inflammation. Granted, if your skin is white and you lay out in the sun for hours (which I just did at Lake Powell) you’re going to burn, at least somewhat, no matter what you eat, but the misery of it can be mitigated by diet. I got pretty red last week, even peeled, but it never hurt much at all.

    1. Absolutely , everyhting is connected. the better-fresh produce fruits and veg we eat the stronger is our immune system faster we heal .perhaps even can prevent the sun damage in some cases

  6. I tanned for years in a tanning bed (I know – big no no) on a daily basis, 20 minutes a day. I used pure coconut oil instead of that chemical junk they sell you. The result was beautiful skin. I am 39 and noone ever guesses my age. Typically people think I’m in my early thirties and often my twenties. Also, my natural skin is very fair and it takes a while to get my skin worked up to a tan.

    1. Do you put the oil on before or after tanning/going out in the sun?

  7. I can attest to vinegar working! Many moons ago, it was a 105 F and I decided to go to the beach and apply sunscreen that wasn’t waterproof. I was young and stupid. I received a nice second degree burn from Mother Nature for my ignorance. I couldn’t sleep at all – the pain was pretty intense. My aunt told me about the vinegar and it helped me get through the hurdle of pain. I was shocked. My nose suffered more in the long run. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I’ve used the vinegar method for years. I don’t bother to dilute it, though, unless I’m low in vinegar. The relief is amazing, as long as you don’t mind smelling like a chip truck. ^_~

    Aloe vera fresh from the plant is a close second, but I find it tends to go sticky and get tight and dry feeling after a while, which irritates the already sore skin. A fresh application (or a damp washcloth) easily fixes that, but it’s something to consider.

  9. I’ve used a cream called ‘Calendula Plus’ from The Vitamin Shoppe for my sunburns. It stops the pain right away, at least on burns that are not too severe. I am also one of those “an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure” type person, but I rarely use sunscreen. I’ll wear a hat, or drap a scraf around my neck so my chest doesn’t burn. I am in my upper 30s and have been told I have beautiful skin. Makes me feel good!

  10. This post came at the right time for me..I just got sunburnt this past Sunday…fooled by the cloudy skies and rain. I was so mad because I had been building up a light tan for the past month or so, so I thought I could handle some more time out in the sun a few hours past noon, but when I got home I was red! I was only outside for about an hour or so, but that was enough to make me look like a lobster.

    I took a lukewarm/cool shower and pat-dried my skin to keep it hydrated when I got home, then applied aloe vera-based lotion on the burnt areas. I also drank about 5 cups of white tea and went mountain biking before the shower…don’t know if it will help, but it made me feel better that I had some antioxidants in me and I had sweated a little…just a mental thing to make me feel like this would counter the sun damage.

    I took 2 ibprophen last night to help reduce the inflammation because I was still a little sore yesterday.

    Today the redness is much less, and I actually look kind of tan. This is the fastest I have lost my red color after a burn…don’t know if it is because of living primally, but I like to think so.

    I’m going to start eating more tomato sauce though after reading your earlier post. I like cooked tomatoes way better than raw ones ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I haven’t had an actual sunburn in years, but my skin seems to feel the ill-effects of sun exposure without actually looking red or burned. It’s never occurred to me to try a natural remedy since I don’t seem technically sunburned–but if it hurts, obviously I’ve done some damage!

    Next time this happens, I’m all over the coconut oil remedy.

  12. I’ve found a little bit of witch hazel extract on those areas that are lightly overexposed helps mitigate a burn. If I go outside for a little while and forget to put on sunscreen, my skin feels a little warm and a burn is likely to form but the witch hazel seems to keep a burn from developing.

  13. Love the aloe vera. We find that while it doesn’t help heal, it definitely helps cool and soothe it away.

    I’ll have to try the vinegar – that’s a new one for me.

    And milk just seems like you’re gonna end up smelling a little bit funky at the end of the day…

  14. An antihistamine like Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)can help with the itching and pain while ibuprofen can help with the pain and itching.

  15. I swear by vitamin E oil for a speedy recovery from a sunburn. I have used it since I was a pup.

  16. I don’t burn badly…I think part of it is genetic since I’m half Spanish and part of it is dietary.

    I’ve noticed that when I’m eating plenty of fatty meats and lots of coconut oil my skin is a lot more resilient and even when I do burn it goes away in a day or two.

  17. Similar to the milk suggestion, I’ve heard that ice cream, slightly mushy, can help a bad burn.

    There is an essential oil called helichrysum italicum, which I purchased online years ago. It is supposed to help cure burns. I bought it for my mom, who was going through radiation treatment at the time, and we found that a couple of drops, mixed with avocado oil, was very soothing when dabbed on her irritated, red skin with a cotton ball. I’ve used it for sunburns and regular burns since, and I find it helpful. It smells like overripe apples, but I don’t mind. The scent dissipates.

  18. Vinegar works for me. After using a spray sunscreen and not bothering to rub it in (I didn’t realize that was needed with the sprays, but apparently it is!), I was so sunburned I was swollen…my ankles were so huge that my socks were cutting of circulation to my feet.

    After wobbling around with lotion and aloe “gel” offering little to no relief, I filled a spray bottle with white vinegar (I skipped the water) and sprayed it all over. The effects were immediate: it was as if the vinegar pulled the sting right out of my skin! Even after drying, I felt relief. I didn’t mind the smell. Vinegar is, oddly enough, one of my favorite smells, lol…

  19. I use high quality Lavender essential oil topically to help heal all types of burns, including sunburn.

  20. Last time I got too much sun, I took a cool shower then put on a mixture of (melted) coconut oil & aloe. repeated applications. Straight aloe gel always dries weird. this mix seemed to work good for me. but I also had a very mild burn.

  21. I have used topical Vit C serums with great success on areas that I could “feel” were going to become very red in a few hours. The key is to apply it right away and not wait. DermaE’s Ester-C serum is what I use.
    I have never tried the coconut oil topically. I eat some every day, though. I will have to try it topically someday.

  22. rosewater and vinegar mix works wonders! i’m a pale pale pale redhead and i’ve tried pretty much all of these…tea baths, aloe and yogurt are also good ones.

  23. I was the sunburn queen growing up (as my sister likes to call me still) being that I’m a lot of Irish and grew up at the beach. I’ve learned a few tricks over the years. Avoid showering as long as possible. Apparently the natural oils of your skin help heal the burn (or so I’ve heard). Then when you do shower, make it as warm as tolerable. And even though it’s not a home remedy, I swear by Banana Boat’s After Sun lotion. It’s loaded with aloe and vitamin E. I slather that on until I’m white and just wait for it to soak in before I get dressed. Doesn’t always soothe the pain right away but helps remove the burn while maintaining some color and preventing peeling down the road.

    I’m thinking I may have to try this coconut oil trick though. My CrossFit trainer uses coconut oil to moisturize her skin and she looks amazing at 34 years old.

  24. My grandmother always used to lay thinly sliced tomatoes over sunburn, which really worked well – I guess it’s the same process as vinegar!

  25. LIke milk, I always found that greek yogurt is amazing for sunburn. I slather it on my sunburn and let it sit for about 15 minutes then rinse gently with cool water. Bring the sting and redness down a ton.

  26. I use Alba kukui body oil as a general after-shower body oil and as a massage oil. It smells nice and always leaves my skin looking great. I definitely recommend it for regular use and I shall have to try it on these pesky burns I got last weekend ๐Ÿ˜›

  27. I try to avoid putting to much on my skin. Feeling slimy, regardless of the substance, has always been unsettling to me; however, I find that ensuring I rehydrate and stay hydrated heels my sunburns quicker and helps take away a lot of the pain. I try to knowingly increase hydratio

  28. You know how you continue to turn redder even after you get out of the sun? Vinegar stops that dead. We carry a small bottle in the glove compartment of our car for applying whenever we get too much sun. Smells like we are dying Easter eggs but stops the burn so it is worth it. We follow that with Noxema to keep the skin soft and healing. That combination worked for a friend of ours when her vitamin E capsule failed to help. Her skin continued to burn after she applied the vitamin E but stopped burning as soon as she applied the vinegar.

  29. Best and most uncomfortable method of keeping a sunburn from getting worse I learned from a RN friend of mine. She said not to use lotion or aloe b/c they trap in the heat and to sit in the tub with ice cold for as long as you can stand it. I was skeptical, but was able to grit my teeth and dipped myself twice and it worked great. I stayed red, but there was no pain following this.

    1. Makes sense – cooling your skin as fast as possible stops your skin from continuing to cook. Works with soft-boiled eggs, too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  30. I find supplements with certain antioxidants are useful in minimizing skin damage from the sun. Specifically, astaxanthin and alpha lipoic acid supplements have been shown to be helpful in this regard.

  31. I eat coconut oil every day and use it liberally on my skin regularly and especially before and after sun exposure. I also wipe my face and any other frequently exposed areas pretty much every day with green tea bag that has been steeped in enough water just to cover. I live in So Cal and am out in the sun a LOT. I rarely ever use commercial sunscreen. Haven’t had a serious sunburn since I moved out here (almost 3 years ago) and I, too, am generally mistaken for being younger than I am.

    1. Hi, did use coconut oil on your face also? I was worried about it clogging pores. We are going on a vacation to Mexico and I am deciding on sunscreen options. Are you saving used green tea bags or new ones?

  32. I’m actually new to coconut oil, and I’m loving its multi uses. As sunblock? Amazing. Must try it. Going to start using it as a sometimes leave-in conditioner too, for hair. And for soothing the skin, of course. It’s great in smoothies too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I make shampoo of olive oil soap, baking soda and coconut oil, with a bit of lavender water for texture, scent and darkening (to counter the baking sida which can lighten hair), and my curls LOVE it! My mother has been complemented many times on the shine in her silver hair, which she attributes to CO after showering. I feel a bit like a basted turkey using it on my skin, but I think I just haven’t gotten the dose right ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. I applied yogurt to a pretty fierce sunburn that I managed to get in Hawaii a few years back. I had blisters the side of sand dollars from it, but the yogurt seemed to soothe it. I don’t know if it was the fact that it was cold or if it actually worked, but it saved me a trip to the hospital nonetheless (a doctor saw my burn and suggested I go, but I toughed it out).

  34. I recently had a terrible, blistering sunburn. A few hours after my sun exposure, I tried vinegar on the burn and it help one bit. Aloe didn’t soothe my skin either, surprisingly.

  35. The incredibly common wild strawberry plant, brewed as a green tea, has a long history of use externally to soothe and speed the healing of sunburns. It’s also a tasty beverage that seems to work wonders on sore throats, and I haven’t bothered using synthetic antibiotics on wounds since I discovered how effective it is (especially with common plantain) poulticed on any cuts or sores.

    Then again, I am a resident weirdo (who happens to feel great…).

  36. I managed to sunburn myself pretty good a couple weeks ago. I had a friend tell me to put baking soda in the bath and soak before going to bed. I had no idea how much baking soda to use or how long to soak but I ran a bath, poured some baking soda in, soaked for about 10 or 15 minutes and viola… the next morning took a hot shower and had no pain, no burning, no nothing. It was a little gritty but I am a believer… baking soda bath is the best sunburn fix ever!!!

  37. Coconut oil wins for me!

    However, since primal con 2011, I have yet to get burned. And, guess what?! I have not put on any sun blocker at all!

    I was even in Orlando, FL for 3 days in June…

    1. Hi, did use coconut oil on your face also? I was worried about it clogging pores. We are going on a vacation to Mexico and I am deciding on sunscreen options. Your reply would really help. Thanks

  38. Nothing that’s mentioned in the article has worked on me to help ease sunburn.
    That said, since going primal I don’t burn anymore at all. =-P

  39. I’ve studied aromatherpy an have used good quality 100% pure essential lavender oil on all burns whether sun burn or household burn.

    A few drops in a water atomiser is refreshing.
    Or a few drops on a washcloth draped over body in a cool shower.
    Applied to a good quality carrier oil such as grapeseed (maybe coconut).
    Lavender is one of the few oils you can apply directly to the skin without dilution. Keep a bottle in the kitchen for kitchen burns.
    I swear by it.
    As an aside, I can’t spend more than 20 mins in the sun here in Australia. However I once sat for over 5 hours in full midday sun with no protection in Minneapolis on the hottest day since 1901 and didn’t burn at all. For us in the southern hemisphere sunburn is almost guaranteed. Ive hated sunscreen my whole life. It accelerates my burning and stings upon application. I can’t wait to try coconut oil!!

  40. So true! A few drops of lavender essential oil mixed with aloe vera gel that’s been kept in the fridge, AMAZING! cuts sunburn healing down to overnight in some cases, feels cool, smells yummy.

  41. My grandmother used vinegar on our burns. I use it now, and yes, it absolutely soothes for a good long while. The last bad burn I had, I put on vinegar, then Burt’s Bees ResQ, alternating something every 3-4hrs, for two days. It never did the awful peeling in sheets like so many other burns, and was much less painful.

    Now, I’m burning much less often, even with my snow white skin. I’ve been eating high fat, unprocessed, low carb for three years and it’s finally making a difference – much harder to sunburn, and less or no itching and pain with bites, stings, and poison ivy, too!

  42. In the days when used to get sunburn super easy, my method was to first take a bath with green tea (10 bags steeped in boiling water for 10 minutes and then poured into the tub full of water).

    Depending on what I had available, I then would either use alpha-lipoic acid lotion or just honey (let it sit on the skin for 10-15 minutes and wash off).

    I always felt these worked way better than aloe.

    Prevention and diet are the best though, I haven’t had a sunburn in years since I’ve been eating well.

  43. You forgot Astaxanthin! A super antioxidant, it also prevents sunburn. ๐Ÿ™‚

  44. I hate the aloe vera in the stores. Too many of them have alcohol in them. They make the burn hurt worse in my experience. I have a nice big plant in my backyard and I water it before I pull out the leaf to use.
    WAY better than the junk in the store.
    I’ve got freckles so ya’ll know how bad I burn!

    1. Yes, IMHO the actual plant itself is worth it’s weight in gold. Store bought aloe in a bottle is full of crap and who knows how much actual aloe is really in the stuff? Usually you end up paying for merchandising, packaging, advertising (just cuz they show an aloe plant on the package doesn’t mean there’s any real aloe in it!) and a whole slew of additives.

      I now have 2 aloe plants in pots because I have to bring them inside for the winter – it’s too cold here for them to do well in our colder winter weather (they over-winter in our garage). Whenever I burn myself cooking or doing something stupid with the toaster oven, I grab an aloe “arm” and bathe my boo-boo in the sappy, gooey stuff and it’s like nothing ever happened.

      When I had radiation treatment for breast cancer back in 2002, the radiation department gave us aloe plants to use on the burns the radiation gave us. They also gave us a bunch of medical stuff in tubes and bottles to use to help with the burns, but nothing worked as well as the real aloe plant. I’d keep pieces (“arms or branches”) of the aloe in the fridge, slice it in half the long way, remove any spines (very important!) and place the lengthwise pieces on top of my boob while laying on the couch just vegging out or watching TV — talk about a lifesaver—

      Not sure what the difference is in a sun burn or a radiation burn, but I do know that the real aloe plant was a total life saver for me as well as a LOT of the other gals there. (Sorry, guys, I don’t know what they did for the prostate cancer peeps.)

      I’m thinking after reading all these posts that maybe more than one burn treatment is effective.

  45. my father chops up limes and rubs them on his burns and lets them sit for 10 minuets or so before washing it off. He swears on it to speed up recovery time, although it does sting.

  46. Raypeat oil (sat/unsat) articles really show how unsat fat can destroy you inside out.
    “Consumption of unsaturated fat has been associated with both skin aging and with the sensitivity of the skin to ultraviolet damage, Ultraviolet light-induced skin cancer seems to be mediated by unsaturated fats and lipid peroxidation.”
    It would bee neat to see if a mixture of gelatin or Glycine could be applied with coconut oil and vitamin D and E and aspirin (if they are transdermal enough). Not sure how reactive those thing are to each other or if vinegar would be an alternative if not included. could add beez wax and maybe make a water proof sunscreen. I use to love the old formula for bull frog when they used bees wax.

    Viva la sat fat solutions.

  47. Being Greek I don’t see olive oil on this list :(, hold the plate smashing celebrations. Greek jokes aside I use olive oil when I burn and find it takes the redness away & leaves me with a nice mediteranian tan :). Live in Australia the sun here is more intense & burns the skin faster than most other parts of the world, in Greece I can sunbake for hours no problems (dreams of sunbaking on a beautiful Greek beach island ahhh). Am wondering if coconut oil is a better option than olive oil (extra virgin of course).

    1. I grew up in sunny South African and have traveled the world, including Australia. I now live in the United Arab Emirates which is desert (summer hits 45 Celsius and higher almost every day.)
      I concur with your comment, the southern hemisphere sun is far more intense than elsewhere. I can go without a shirt for a couple of hours here in the desert, when 20 minutes in South Africa would fry me.

      I use Aloe Vera straight from the plant for cuts, burns and bruises.

  48. Mark,

    Nice tips… I could have used some of these a few weeks ago when I got really sunburned!

    Alykhan

  49. I’ve being studying this subject as i run a company that formulates and makes green chemistry. I reading all these science papers etc, and then it occured to me that the skins dead it’s burnt, your not healing it you just need to relieve the pain. So the obvious answer and best solution is Beer or maybe a nice glass of wine.

  50. What works for me is to take a warm shower or bath. I don’t know why, but it relieves the pain and cools me down, and I may blister a few days later, but the color stays.

    Go figure!

  51. I lived and worked in the Eastern Mediterranean in my late twenties, and picked up quite a few local tips.

    My favourite was a very cold cucumber, straight from the fridge. You simply cut it down the middle and slap the cold sliced edge against the sunburn. It draws out the heat and cools the skin, and something in the cucumber seems to have a slight healing effect.

    That said, the cucumbers out there are rather radically different to ours: the flesh is harder, and they do not have so many seeds.

    Also full fat greek yoghurt works when if it is cool (it also makes a wonderful face mask). I have also heard mashed banana and an infusion of dock leaves works, but have never tried them.

  52. The best I have ever used for sunburn and other skin irritations is Chickweed salve. I get mine at http://www.yodercountryhealth.com

    It is made by the Amish in southern Indiana and works like a charm.

    I got a burn while in Lake Havasu CA several years ago. Coming out of the shower I realized I was in trouble. I immediately applied the Chickweed salve and the pain was reduced 95% in less than 5 minutes. My burned skin healed and did not even peal. I am never with out the salve.

  53. My husband was having a lot of small skin cancers removed and in an attempt to start with a clean slate, his dematologist prescribed a chemically induced burn/peel on his face last year. It was a ten day regimen, and by about day six he was miserable. His face was peeling and raw, it was painful for him and painful to look at. I had not been using coconut oil, but after doing some reading I figured it was worth a try. I bought the industrial strength stuff they sell at Wal-Mart (we live in a small town, and it was my only readily available source) and he started applying it twice a day. His skin started healing immediately. By day four of the coconut oil, his face had only a slight reddish color. I was sold.

  54. I have been using coconut oil for just about everything. Recently had great results on healing some tears on my hands. Worked amazingly! Have not tried it for sunburn, hopefully won’t have to.

  55. I suspect not much can be done other than pain relief.

    It seems to me that expecting a lotion to relieve sunburn is about as logical as expecting a lotion to turn a cooked chicken back into a raw one.

  56. Vinegar and water do indeed work as a remedy. Using the 1:1 mixture in cold water and laying towels soaked in the mixture across the burned area will provide relief in short order.

  57. Arnica Gel (arnica montana) works wonders for sunburn. It draws the redness away from the skin, reduces swelling and pain. Also, I use coconut oil, exclusively the LivPurely brand after a day at the beach to keep my skin and hair hydrated and soft.

  58. I would like to add something I didn’t see, but it’s loosely based on the vinegar idea. I had a co-worker who suffered a bad burn much worse than a sun-burn. He applied mustard to the area, which of course contains vinegar. The thicker base of the mustard stuck to the wounded area, kept the skin cooler and did the trick.
    If you don’t mind smelling like a corn dog, this could be your solution.

  59. Very surprised to not see Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) on the list. It has been used by Aboriginal Australians for 10,000+ years for all sorts of skin aliments and cuts.

    It is incredible on sunburn. After stupidly suffering 2nd degree sunburn, tea tree healed my skin quickly. I have been using it since 1996.

  60. I have a bad history of sunburn. Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older it’s gotten better (as have the sunblocks.) I know this isn’t a home remedy, but the only thing that really works for me is lidocaine. I buy the aloe vera gel w/ lidocaine in it (I think solacaine is one brand) and I apply it frequently.

  61. With deepest respect dudes, the problem isn’t the sunburn. The problem is the damaging UVA rays that are slowly turning you to leather. Without a way to block those, the short-term small sunburn is the least of your issues. UVA alters DNA and destroys collagen. A few studies suggest it harms your immune system as well. I wear sunscreen primarily so I don’t look like an old couch by age 45. I have no desire to be primal but with waggling jowls around my collarbones. ๐Ÿ™‚ Unless you consider UVA, this discussion is seriously incomplete. Best wishes to you all!

  62. Long story short. We had heated a draw bar for a plow to a white color. It was down to a bright red when the person welding had removed his gloves and was trying to get out from between the bars. He reached over too far and you could hear the almost white hot steel squeal on the entirety of the inside of his hand along with a huge puff of smoke. Things happened quickly after that and the huge aloe plant in the shop immediately had a very large, thick leaf split and put on that hand in just seconds after the injury. Instead of a third degree burn that looked and felt like one and took weeks to heal, the hand was much better the next day and actually had no large blistering, something that would always happen in those circumstances. This has happened since to various people and it never fails to do unbelievable wonders for the burn. The leaf was very large and thick and wrapping it so the liquid stayed on it all night seemed to help more than anything I ever witnessed. Needless to say nearly everyone I know who has a steel working shop has a large aloe plant. It always works. I had a 3rd degree burn from my furnace exploding in my face and only had an aloe product in a pump jar. While it helped with the pain, I still had the hide on my face blacken and bleed a day later. Nothing but the real plant works as well as anything, and I’ve tried them all. If you have a large plant, keep the other half of the leaf you don’t use in a ziploc and change to that side after 3-4 hours. Do this regularly and a burn will be so much less you won’t ever be caught without fresh aloe again like I did last winter after my life had left our big aloe plant on the breezeway one night during low 20’s temp that killed it. No other thing listed has worked for me as well as aloe although vit. E is also a good runner up.

  63. I’m curious, once you do get sun-burned, is that damage permanent? What I mean is, if you get sunburned multiple times over your lifetime does the damage accumulate?

  64. I have read that taking aspirin before the sunburn sets in can short-circuit the inflammatory response.

    I have since tried this on several occasions and it does seem to prevent it from progressing.

  65. applying yoghurt instead of milk is easier and it really helps a great deal. used it this summer and u could quickly see improvements.

  66. I use olive oil, which I also use daily on my face and body. For mild burns I put it on before I go to bed and the next day the redness is gone. For lobster-red burns I put it on at least twice a day. I have not peeled at all since using olive oil.

  67. In Arkansas we have a common weed called plantain. An old herb book said that boiling the leaves of the plantain, then soaking a soft cloth in the cooled liquid and applying it to the burn reduces the pain and redness. Seems like a lot of work, but it was the only option to me one summer when I got really red, and it really worked! After that I made extra and kept it in the fridge.

  68. Coconut oil all the way – before, during & after sunning!
    Combine with aloe vera for burns.

  69. I got burned last year just 24 hours before I had a romantic weekend planned with my girlfriend! How wonderful right! She suggested the hottest shower or bath I could stand!! I thought that was nuts, but I gave it a try. I filled the tub with VERY hot water. I slowly….. got in. It was soooo frekin painful!!!! The pain stopped after 5 mins or so. I stayed in it for a few hours. The next day I had no pain!!! Nice!! I did add a tsp of tea tree oil just because it was by the tub. Not sure which help the best but it worked for me!

  70. I second the Arnica gel. It may not speed the healing up too much but it absolutely reduces pain and some redness as it is considered an analgesic. It’s also amazing for bruises, muscle pain, prevents calcification in hematomas, and even helped me to significantly reduce healing time a stress fracture.

  71. Another vote for vinegar. My English mum always told me to spray a sunburn with vinegar to make the redness disappear faster. I don’t burn often, but if I do I marinate myself in vinegar, and feel much better – cools my skin, and I don’t seem to peel.

  72. I used coconut oil as a sunblock once…never again. I’ve read countless books and websites promoting it, but all it took for me was a day at the beach to discover that oil of any kind burns your skin! My body was literally cooking in the hot sun! Worst burn I ever had. Ironically, I used coconut oil to heal the burn and I didn’t peel!

  73. I tried all these remedies: the raw aloe Vera plant, aloe Vera spray tea, warm bath and then tea bath and also the milk ( which makes you smell sort of moldy) and then I tried the vinegar and it was amazing, my skin still burned a bit but was much much less!!! Amazing

  74. Vinegar!!! Grew up in the FL sun, Mom always gave us vinegar baths when we stayed out too long. It always took the sting out immediately and we slept well the entire night and still felt good in the morning to go out and play again!

  75. My tried and true sunburn relief method is internal, not external. I drink some liquid chlorophyll mixed with water. Depending on the severity of the burn, you can drink a little (? maybe a teaspoon? of chlorophyll in about 6 ounces of water?) every couple of hours or just a few times a day. I am lazy and have only done it a straight 2 days in a row, so I don’t know if there is a reason to take it for longer or not. But it has never failed to relieve my skin, and my kids’ as well.

  76. I still do what Mum used to do: When sunburned, a cool, 20 minute bath with 4-8 tea bags comforts and soothes. Also makes the burn look less red, since using tea bags in the bath gives you a temporary fake tan.

  77. This wont help sooth the pain but it will help prevent you from peeling. If you don’t have any of the products mentioned in the article take a hot shower. I’m going to be honest, it kinda hurts but I don’t end up peeling.

  78. Green Tea is very healing for the skin. It can speed healing of burns and heal uv damage. You could put make your own green tea bath , or you could buy a pre packaged one somewhere like greenteabaths.com

  79. My best friend in Tucson, Az. says Barbasol Shaving Cream is the best aid for a sunburn. It worked for me ๐Ÿ™‚

  80. As far as home remedies go – (i very rarely get burned, as i’m not a sun worshipper – thus even though i’m 55 most think i’m in my late 30s.. just saying). Any ways, for my family: To pull the heat of the burn out we’ve used Baking Soda poultice spread out over the area. When that ‘hardens’, i then spray a light mist of Apple Cider Vinegar over the area. We repeat this procedure and most of the time after an hour or so, no more pain. (you might get a crunchy feeling from the Baking Soda, but it is worth it.)

  81. i had severe sunburn in the face i was in dubai i went 10 min in the hot sun it is severe burn in my face this i was facing a promblem more than 5 to 6 yrs. pls help me any home remedy medicine.

  82. Aloe I found generally works well, but I don’t like the smell or feel of it dry on my skin. I always found and, no word of a lie! A hot shower takes away the worst of the burn, not the redness but the heat most bad sunburns generate. My mum always said it “draws out the heat” and that cold showers only provided a temporary relief, but in the end make the burn seem worse. As for those who peel easy? Rub corn flower over it if it itches, it actually soothes the itch! My aunt showed me that one when she got tired of watching me use the walls corner as a back scratcher lol

    1. WOW, That’s what I do – hot shower – for the occasional burn. I turn the water up gradually, makes me feel like it’s not as painful as cranking up the heat and getting in. Did not know about the corn flower, hopefully won’t have to use it.

  83. I made the mistake last year of trying to get some color early in the season, and basically went from my winter, normally pale white complexion to something more closely resembling a strawberry. It’s a mistake I seem to make frequently. So I started compiling all the remedies that were listed on every sunburn website and came up with a cure that seemed to lessen the amount of time I was hurting and also the severity. Rather than bathe with teabags I put several of them in a bowl with cool water, a small splash of apple cider vinegar and a few crushed up aspirin in the bowl and I had my mix. Then I soaked a large towel in it, wrapped the towel around myself like a cape and belly flopped into a bed covered in towels. The result? A do it yourself home compress that surprisingly helped a great deal. It was easy to apply which meant I was able to apply it more frequently (as opposed to running a bath every time I wanted to try to alleviate my pain) and while the towel was on I was almost pain free, and the pain took much longer to return than with a simple aloe vera treatment. This year I’m glad I have a new remedy, but all the same I think I’ll be sticking with the sunscreen.

  84. I tried the tea bags last night on a 3 day burnt nose (fished with a hat on, didnt think my nose was exposed) wiped my face 3 times thru-out the evening and this morning it is barely even pink. I think I found a new remedy for those rare occassions.

  85. Using toothpaste really helps alot…it brings the whole burn out. U will have to leave it on maybe an hour or two, but its worth it in the end;)

  86. I actually got burnt from the uv rays of a tanning bad, but let me tell you! IT HURT! I felt sick because of it! So i googled how to sooth sunburn, and i read what different people said and decided to soak in a cool/lukewarm bath with Oatmeal(Put oat meal in a clean sock and secure the top) a couple tea bags (green or black) a generous amount of Vit E oil, and some milk… OH. MY. WORD. The burning immediately STOPPED! and since then i have not had NEAR as much pain as i did last night BEFORE my bath. So i would encourage anyone with extreme sunburn to soak in a lukewarm/cool bath with this stuff…IT WORKS!!!!

  87. I use vinegar in a spray bottle to stops the pain.Mix some in your lotion about 1/3 its helps me I burn very easy

  88. I have used lavender essential oil and aloe vera and love them both. I’ve also used peppermint to help cool the burn and that works wonders as well!

  89. I was about to give up because I don’t have any of these (yes my milk bottle is empty) and then I saw coconut. The only remedy close at hand, yet I’m allergic to it. Thanks for the post anyways!

  90. I am a red head and very fair skinned. I have had a lot sunburns especially as a kid.
    This remedy lessens the burn and the pain everytime. But it must be done the first day of the burn.
    Before going to be…..
    Make a paste of baking soda & vinegar. Rub all over the burn. Let it sit 10-15 minutes until its relatively dry. Wash off.
    Liberally apply Baby Magic lotion. Must be the name brand.
    The severity & heat of the burn will be considerably lessened.
    Continue to apply Baby Magic lotion over the days you have the burn.

  91. Ok folks, Here I sit with some very red skin, not blistered, I was out with my awesome wife Kayaking, nice sunny day, but after 3 hours of enjoying the float on the river I got home to some very hot & burning legs. So I tried the store version of sunburn relief & and pain reliever,soothed some but the pain is so bad and my legs are swollen that I can’t stand still,,seriously walking feels better.Nowway back when I was a kid my dad went fishing with my uncles, we are Cherokee by the way, he did’nt think of getting sunburn but he did and he blistered. My great grandmother laid him on the dinning table and put a towel on his back and poured straight vinegar till the towel was soaked and he spent the night laying there soaked in vinegar and the next day he was up and healing within a few days he seemed like he never got burned,,so you know what I am doing right now, sitting up with my legs wrapped in a towel soaked in vinegar.. most the pain is gone. Good luck to all of you….

  92. Ozone Therapy Products are much more powerful and work faster than aloe vera. Especially ozonated Coconut and jojoba oil.

  93. I have always used aloe with good results, but someone told me to use coconut oil for this recent sunburn. I was amazed. the pain was almost completely removed and I didn’t blister. I was cherry red and hurting, but soon after the coconut oil, I was relieved. I got up in the middle of the night and reapplied. It did the trick.

  94. I always use extra virgin olive oil. It takes the sting out in a few hours if you don’t have anything else. It’s easy to put on and remove(:

  95. JUST got back from the beach and my upper back is burned-ugh! The crazy thing is I didn’t burn anywhere else, I did put some of my daughter’s sunblock real quick on my face and chest. And I don’t tend to get any color on my legs.

    So now I am on fire. The only thing I have on hand is coconut oil so we’ll see, I feel the heat being pulled out of me, but I must try the vinegar. When we were kids my mom used to put homemade yogurt or regular yogurt on us that also soothed the sunburns.

    What about drinking Green Tea internally? I am freaking out now because I had a mole that I never went to get checked out that my doctor said it is proooobably ok but wanted me to go in to see a dermatology anyways just to “double check”. And here I am burning my back again in that same spot. I am not so much concerned with the pain but the after effects with the risk of skin cancer now and all.

  96. Aloe Vera and vinegar are great way to get rid of Sunburn, but I was now aware about Kukui Nut Oil & Typical Black Tea. Your Post was worth to read. keep it up ๐Ÿ™‚

  97. I got a sun burn e few days ago and used black tea bags smoked in cool water then pat them over my burn it worked really well to stop the pain

  98. I got a sun burn a few days ago and used black tea bags soaked in cool water and it worked great to rid of my pain there seem to be a a lot of home pain remedies to choose from now but black tea works great for me.

  99. Here’s a weird sunburn remedy.. When I was a kid, when me or my cousins got a sunburn our folks would rub some kind of fish oil ointment on us. We dreaded the ointment more than the pain from the sunburn :D. It was a mix of fish oil (cod probably) + vaseline or something. It’s still available in some local pharmacies here though it isn’t used quite as often as 20(ish) years ago.

    1. Wait, wait, you’re talking cod liver oil? That’s a whole new angle… (no pun intended) It might be the vitamin A and D. Interesting.

  100. Years ago when I lived on Italy my shoulders got sunburned while out fishing with friends.Their mamma slapped vinegar on, despite my protests, and it worked. An Italian friend used to plaster fresh raw tomato on sunburn, and that seemed to work, too.

  101. I am surprised that no one has mentioned witch hazel, it is proven to shrink swollen blood vessels reducing the heat, and pain of sunburns. I did before and after pics of my husbands burned skin and the results were astonishing.
    Simply cover the sunburned area with a dry wash cloth, then soak the wash cloth with witch hazel and let it sit for 15-20 minutes, remove the cloth and let it air dry. the next day his skin was visibly less red and not as painful. Check it out! Google it for yourself, better yet try it!

  102. My sister has a friend who makes natural products. I’ve used them on regular burns and sunburn. It works. She has one called ouchie balm with evoo, calendula, lavender, plantain, chamomile and other ingredients. It’s 96% organic. I’ve used it on my face and arms. I’ve also used her cocobum cream with coconut oil and it works too. Her business is called Bee green naturals. I’ve also found relief with black tea bags wrapped on my knees with gauze wrap.