Condition Spotlight: Sunburn Aftercare

Once the damage from sunburn is done, there’s no going back. However, you can alleviate the pain with a few simple home remedies.

Sunburn results from over-exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, which penetrate the top layers of skin to dehydrate the deeper sub dermal layer. Sunburn isn’t just a clever name—sunburn is a type of burn and should be treated as such. Keep in mind that a burn is essentially dehydration caused by heat or chemicals. Rehydration is often key to soothing burns.

Here are some remedies easily made and administered at home:

>>Use pure aloe vera gel to cool and moisturize burnt skin— its blend of phytochemicals (mannans, anthrones, and lectins) soothe irritated skin. Better yet, crack open a fresh leaf from an aloe vera plant, and rub the sap directly on affected skin.

>> Cut a few slices from a fresh cucumber and gently pat affected skin. Cucumber contains antioxidants and the ability to ward off free-radical damage. Since sunburn is a result of free-radical damage from the sun, it only makes sense that cucumber brings relief.

>> Another topical option is fresh lemon juice squeezed on affected skin. Lemon acts as an antiseptic and will reduce healing time and risk of infection.

>> Drink water. While you may not feel thirsty after being out of the sun for a few hours, your skin certainly is. And don’t think that sports drinks will hydrate you faster or more completely than water—sports drinks often contain sodium, which will only dehydrate your body more.

>> A lukewarm bath filled with ten to twenty green tea bags provides relief. Not only will your skin absorb water, the tannin in the green tea reduces pain and redness.

>> Yogurt, when applied to skin and allowed to sit for five minutes, then rinsed off under room temperature water provides relief.

>> St. John’s Wort can be used as an ointment for your skin. Simply mix a few drops of essential oil into water or aloe vera gel and massage gently into skin. It’s well documented that St. John’s Wort increases photosensitivity, so stay out of direct sunlight. If you have sunburn, you should stay out of the sun, anyway!

>> A damp washcloth or towel soaked with goats’ milk is beneficial for sunburned skin as it contains the exact same pH level as human skin. This helps restore damaged skin cells.

>> Another compress option is to soak a washcloth in room-temperature, plain, white vinegar. White vinegar contains acetic acid, one of the chemicals that comprises ibuprofen (an anti-inflammatory) and thus reduces the pain of sunburn topically.

>> Sunburn is fueled by inflammation. So the next step is to eat inflammation-reducing foods. Blueberries, kiwifruit, oranges, raspberries, tomatoes, broccoli, and kale are common anti-inflammatory foods. Not only are these foods anti-inflammatories, they’re loaded with water (to help rehydrate your body) on a cellular level.

Remember to rinse off any sunscreen or lotion that may be on your skin prior to applying any skin-soothing remedy. To do this, simply rinse yourself off in a lukewarm shower. Do not use soap, shampoo, or abrasive loofahs or washcloths—just let the water loosen and wash away dirt, oil, or sunscreen residue.