No one wants to get a sunburn, but if you’re careless with sunscreen while enjoying life outdoors, it’s very easy to get one, especially in the hot summer months. A form of radiation burn caused by too much sun exposure, a sunburn makes your skin redden, peel and is quite painful. Worse, it increases your chances of developing melanoma later in life. So, pile on the sunscreen! And don’t forget to reapply it every couple of hours or so.
But what if you’ve already got a sunburn? Here are four natural ways to soothe it and help it heal faster:
1. Ice pack wrapped in a towel
Cooling the skin is a good way to soothe a sunburn, but it needs to be done gently. Don’t apply an ice pack (a bag of frozen peas works too) directly to your skin. That would be too harsh. Remember, your skin is injured and needs to be treated with care. So, wrap the ice pack with a towel and place it on your sunburn. The ice will cause your capillaries to constrict, lessening the inflammation.
2. Aloe vera
According to the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, aloe vera extracts have anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe inflamed and irritated skin. You can either use an aloe vera cream, such as Infinite Aloe Cream, or extract juice from the plant. Just make sure you don’t use anything that also contains lidocaine or benzocaine as these can cause an allergic reaction that will only worsen your condition.
According to a 2010 study, cucumbers have analgesic properties and can thus lessen pain. To treat sunburns, chilled cucumbers are best. So, chill them (but make sure they’re not too cold as that wouldn’t be good for skin), and then, with the help of a blender, turn them into a paste. Apply it to the affected area and watch it relieve the inflammation.
4. Cool milk
Dermatologist Amy Pappert, who works at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, recommends treating a sunburn with milk: “Milk is the beverage of choice for relieving the discomfort of sunburn. Apply cool, not cold, milk with a clean cloth or gauze to your skin. The coolness soothes the initial heat felt by the skin and the milk will create a protein film that helps ease the discomfort.”
How do you treat a sunburn?