This article contains several tips, product reviews and step by step treatments for sunburn as suggested by the ThriftyFun community. If you have a favorite remedy that hasn't been listed, post it below.
As with all advice you may read on the internet, use common sense. If in doubt, consult with a physician. Minors should tell their parents or a responsible adult before treating themselves.
"I am from a 100% French family, so naturally, I have very very pale skin. I take precautions all the time putting on 50+ sunblock when I go outside. Foolishly, I decided to go to the beach today and study for some finals.
I am deep red everywhere except where my bathing suit is. I have blisters on my arms, shoulders, and thighs. I have been shaking uncontrollably for some time now and getting a lot of nausea and lightheadedness. Should I consider going to the hospital?"
"Dominique, you should go to the hospital as soon as you can! You might have sun poisoning. In fact, based on the information I've researched about sun poisoning, I'm almost 100% sure you have sun poisoning. GO TO THE HOSPITAL!"
I'm as Irish and as pale as you can get, I'm also 28 yrs old. Since I know my history with the sun, I've been able to avoid a sunburn for 5 or 6 years. Last week, I hung out at the pool with my sis (which I NEVER do) and yeah, I've got a wickedly bad sunburn. What helped me was drenching a towel in cold witch hazel.
Now I have not read any one mentioning this, is it bad? It's been taking the pain away and keeping the area clean. After I read the back, I dabbed some on a small area and tested it so after 10 minutes, I put it on the towel and lied down and went to bed. It felt great! Hope this helps someone.
Irish Cure: Black Tea
The answer is my Irish grandmother's cure, black tea. Brew up a pot with a handful of tea bags and put it in the refrigerator. When it's cool, put wash cloths (old ones, as it will stain) in the tea, squeeze out excess and lay them on the burned areas. The tannic acid in the tea draws out not only the redness, but the pain as well. It works. I'm a redhead and I have been doing it for years.
However, sunburn is no joke. I use sunscreen regularly (I was born before it was invented, so like other boomers I have suffered countless burns) and I rarely burn any more, but I've had to have a few basal cell spots burned off my face as they had the potential to turn cancerous. One can get a groovy tan by using the self-tanner, and or doing a gradual tan by using sun screen. Skin cancer can kill you, so it is worth it to do it right. But if you do get a burn, try the tea, it's guaranteed to work, and very quickly at that.
Use Tea To Make The Burn Turn To Tan
I am a redhead and burn very easily but don't like when it peels and goes right back to being white. I read that if you make tea then put it in the fridge, it helps heal sunburn and also turn it into a tan. It works! Either dip a rag in it and put it on the sunburn or dump a lot of tea in a cool bath.
Tea Bags and Aloe
Here are 2 solutions that I have experienced to help sunburn:
- Put about 4 tea bags in 2 tablespoons of boiling water and wait until the tea bags are room temperature. Squeeze the liquid out of them and then place the tea bags on the sunburned area. The tannic component in the tea bag will help the burn.
- Go to either a plant nursery or a supermarket in the produce section and purchase either an aloe vera plant or an aloe leaf (in the supermarket). Slit the aloe leaf and you will find a jelly like substance which you should gently smooth on to the burned area. This is a very old medicinal solution that is found in the Bible and works very well.
White Vinegar to Draw Out the Burn
Surprisingly enough, a wonderful relief for sunburn in white vinegar. I really helps to draw the heat away from the body. If you don't draw the heat away, you skin will literally keep on burning. Just pour a little vinegar in a bowl, dip a paper or regular towel in and lay the towel on the affected area. My father learned this when he was in the Coast Guard, and it is a great help. Also, if you apply it soon enough, it will dramatically reduce the redness and get you to that lovely tan a lot faster. You may smell like a salad, but it's worth it.
P.S.: This is not recommended for your face, because it causes your eyes to feel like they are burning and the smell is very, very strong.
Vinegar, Ice and Aloe
I am sunburned right now! I decided to go tanning because I have a skin condition called psoriasis. The UVB rays works wonders for it but I had not gone tanning since July. I went in the tanning bed for 15 minutes and my face got bright red!
In a matter of 45 minutes my face has gone from bright red to a flushed pink! I did a combination of vinegar and ice mixed in a bowl dipping a wash cloth and holding it onto my face until it got warm for about 30 minutes.
I then layered on 100% aloe vera gel. The trick with the gel is to first rub it in and then layer it on top like a mask and sit in front of a fan or open window so cool air blows on it.
I also took 2 aspirins and drank 2 bottles of water. An hour later my face looks 75% better and has a more natural color than the bright shiny red I was before. My eyelids are still feel a bit swollen but the red is definitely going away!
Step By Step Vinegar Treatment
About the vinegar, don't count it out just yet! I have olive skin so I rarely burn. When I was younger, I went to a white sand beach all day in Florida. This was in the late 1970's when we had practically nothing in the way of sun block.
I was beet red when I got home and my grandmother took me right away to the bathroom and covered me in vinegar. I thought she was crazy! But she was right and this worked wonders!
It's important that you put the vinegar on right away, as soon as possible! The Vinegar works by changing the PH in your skin. It won't help if you put it on the next day. It has to be applied right when you get home from the beach, or before! Apply it as soon as possible, as soon as you think you may have a sunburn.
- Remove your clothes. Then using a clean wash cloth, soft clean sponge, your hands, or paper towels, apply cider vinegar (or white vinegar, if that's all you have) liberally to every sunburned part of you body.
- Leave the vinegar on for AT least 10 minutes, but a bit longer would be better.
- Then rinse the vinegar off with cool water. By the next day, your sunburn will be about half as bad as it would have been if you didn't use the vinegar.
* If your sunburn is really bad, you can either repeat the above process twice, or better yet, follow the above directions, then instead of rinsing, soak in a cool tub with 1 cup of vinegar added to the water for 20 minutes.
Vinegar worked so well for me that I have always used it on my kids and now my daughter uses vinegar on her daughter as well. It's truly a "Miracle Remedy"! Yes, sometimes it does itch a bit, but you can put up with a bit of itching for a few minutes so you won't be miserable and in pain later, can't you?
One more idea that "feels good" on sunburn, but doesn't actually heal it is to put a jar of Noxzema in the fridge and slather it on a little while before taking a cool shower.
You can also use the Gel-Packs that are made for athletes. Keep a few in your freezer, and pull them out when needed for a sunburn, or in a pinch, use a frozen bag of corn. (Just be sure to put it back in the freezer before it thaws or you'll be eating corn for dinner!) *grin!*
I know this may sound crazy but it works. Soak in the tub with two gallons of WHOLE milk. No water, just milk. Shower off milk and instant relief!
Whole Milk For Florida Sunburn
When I graduated from college I went to Florida as a gift to myself. I had a great time but I have extremely fair skin and even with 45 degree sunblock, I came home with second and third degree sunburns on my back, arms and legs (behind the knees and on the bottom of your feet is the worst!). I tried every remedy int he world, aloe vera, cocoa butter, vinegar (never did the shaving cream though). I had to sleep in my friends indoor pool I was hurting so bad.
I finally went to a dermatologist. She told me to go out buy whole milk and either pour it in the tub or soak it in the towel (tub works best). The whole milk did the trick. It soaked out my burn somehow, the pain went away and I didn't peel so badly.
Try Evaporated Milk
Either bathe with evaporated whole milk or dab on sunburned skin with soft cotton balls.
By c. nelson
Milk and Honey
My nose, cheeks and forehead were burned quite bad after a field trip to six flags. It was a Thursday so showing up to school the next day all red was not that exciting. So what I did was I warmed up some honey and then added some milk too it. I stuck it in the fridge for a while and let it cool then I dunked a rag in it and let it rest on my face for a while, it made the pain go away and the color fade quite a bit. After this I used regular non-scented moisturizer.
Greek Remedy: Yogurt
I am Greek and trust me, even though we have olive skin, we all burn and we all use plain yogurt (Greek style). You can find it in the organic section. Just leave it on a while and then wipe off gently with a cool washcloth.
Whenever myself or my kids get sunburned I put "Plain Yogurt" on. It feels really cool and soothing it stops the intense pain immediately for us. Also, ibuprofen and lots of water.
Mayonnaise! It sounds gross but cover your burn in Mayo and the pain just goes away! I am a fair skinned redhead so I burn very easily. I keep plenty of mayo in my fridge all summer long!
Peanut butter works very well\. Smooth it around the sore spots and within an hour or so it is a much lighter burn.
I went skiing yesterday for about 5 hours with no sunscreen. Yeah, not smart. My face was completely red. It hurt so bad this morning that I had to stay home all day and I was in a lot of pain. I used the aloe plant all day as well as vinegar on my nose and lower cheeks because it will make you cry with the strong scent.
Someone at my Mom's work said vanilla extract would help. So I tried it. It didn't do anything, but in about five minutes I noticed the red was basically completely gone. I took ibuprofen because it said it helps the swelling. I had huge swelling and it also helped the pain.
Remember to drink lots of water to keep you hydrated. Try to treat your sunburn as fast as you can, even if it's not all the bad. Always be smart by wearing sunscreen!
Cucumbers for Sun Burnt Eyes
I had burnt under my eyes really bad. I work with the ambulance and have to go into the hospital with a patient and one of the nurses told me to go home and try the cucumber thing. You bite the cucumber slice in half and place it under your eyes not only did it take the swelling away but the burning and redness away. Try it, it worked for me.
Tea Tree Oil, Olive Oil, or Lavender Oil
Both for the burn and the itch here is what seems to have worked pretty well. The day of the burn apply a ton of aloe (pure) if possible. Rite Aid sells the clear kind and it works well. The idea is to keep your skin cooled and moisturized. Then when the itch begins after a day or two, try tea tree oil (not the same as tea oil). Tea tree oil is usually available in a health foods store and GNC may even sell it. This stuff works for many things (bites, burns, ivy) so the $12 or $13 for a small bottle is worth it. It is an extract so you can save by mixing it with another kind of oil.
Olive oil works well or lavender oil. Mix about 1 drop of tea tree oil per 10 drops of olive oil. Or a teaspoon of tea tree oil per 10 teaspoons of olive oil. Mix it good and pat it on with your fingers or a soft small towel or tissue. Do not rub it on. Apply this and take some Tylenol every 4-6 hours (no more than 4 in 24 hours though). Reapply when the itch starts again. It will last cause it is oil and the peeling will be minimized. Also apply after a shower as many times the chemicals in water can dry the skin more than anything.
Tea Tree Oil
I have sun sensitive skin and I have found that tea tree oil helps. I dab it on with cotton balls. My skin feels cold and tingly and the pain subsides.
The absolute best relief from the pain, not the red color, is baby oil. Take a cool shower then dry off and generously apply baby oil to the burned area. It keeps the skin loose so that it will not tighten up and you can move normally, and not like a person in a body cast.
Don't Use Baby Oil For Tanning
Recommendation for those who like me enjoy tanning and have not much time! I was currently on my spring break at Miami for only 4 days, I wanted to get a tan because I was looking very light. After my 2 time going to the beach and using the tanning oil, I couldn't see any difference so on my 3 day I decided to use the baby oil because I knew I was going to tan faster.
After only 30 minutes, I was completely burnt. Today is Friday and I am at work complaining of this horrible pain I have in my entire body. This is not what I was expecting form this baby oil. I will continue to read what you guys have recommend for my situation. Please guys do not use baby oil to tan.
Plain liquid glycerin works wonders on a sunburn, apply to a cotton ball and put straight on sun burn. Helps a lot, and the it stays on longer than Aloe Vera gel since it doesn't absorb into the skin as fast.
Aluminum foil takes the heat out. just kinda of hold a piece on your sunburn. its only temporary but you'll feel a little better
I've found that a blue ice pack (like the ones you stick in your coolers) helps alleviate some of the burning if you put it on soon after you get burnt
Gels, Lotions And Aftercare
Fresh Aloe Gel
Fresh aloe vera gel works wonders! I was very, very red and on medication which reacts with UV rays, therefore sun exposure should be keep to a minimum, but I got burnt. After applying the clear, sticky jelly of some home grown aloe vera (not the yellow liquid, as this is an irritant), I lay down in front of a fan. After sleeping with the aloe-mask, I woke up to find the aloe had hardened, coating my skin, and the redness has almost disappeared. A bit uncomfortable when it hardens, and feels gross when it's sticky, but much better then dry, peeling, red and sore skin! Hope this helps! :-)
Wal-Mart for Aloe
Wal-Mart has inexpensive bottles of pure aloe vera gel. It's close to the pharmacy department. It's the easiest thing to use.
Refrigerate Your Aloe
I have very sensitive skin and burn very easily. The best thing that I have found is to use aloe vera gel that has been refrigerated. It is really cold at first, but it does cool down a sunburn in a hurry.
Aloe With Lidocaine
They make pure aloe with lidocaine, which work great for peeling, itching, and a little bit of the pain; but a gallon of white vinager and about 30 tea bags, in a lukewarm tub for about 30 minutes works extremely well. Give it a try.
You can buy the lidocaine in a cream, like for example Lanocaine brand cream advertised for "Itching" or a less expensive generic brand. Unfortunately this isn't a spray, but a cream instead, but it will definitely help! You can also ask a pharmacist, or go to a medical supply place. They have all kinds of creams and sprays with lidocaine in them made for seniors and bedridden people that have dry itchy skin. Just look in the yellow pages.
I have really light skin and I've always put Noxzema on my sunburns. I apply a layer and just let it dry, then apply a cool towel. It helps relieve the pain and itching, also, I take some advil.
Noxzema Takes The Heat
We use Noxzema (or the generic brand) to take the "heat" (I.e. pain) out of a sunburn. Just reapply as needed for the first 24 hours or so. You do smell like eucalyptus/menthol, but it's a "clean" smell. I see that other readers recommend the vinegar treatment to prevent peeling -- as a veteran of beau coup sunburns as a redhead in the pre-sunscreen era, I'm not sure that is so -- if you burn badly enough, you're gonna blister and peel, regardless. My Mom always used the vinegar, though, because it did ease the pain some. (We used to joke about her wanting to "pickle" us along with the cucumbers.) Just my 2 cents.
Noxzema Originally Developed For Sun
Noxzema really does work and I'll tell you why. Originally it was marketed as a sunburn cream, but one customer found it to help her eczema and it was renamed 'Noxzema' and sold as a cleanser instead.
By the way, if you don't have anyone around to rub it on your back (in that middle area that's hard to reach) - use a rubber cooking spatula to spread it. Works like a charm!
Corn Huskers Lotion
I had a bad sunburn, so I talked to the pharmacist about the best product to use. She recommended corn huskers. I tried it and will never go back to plain old aloe. The Corn Husker's Lotion doesn't sting, and works just as well (if not better) than aloe. Try it for yourself! I found it at my local drug store.
Gold Bond Medicated Lotion
Gold Bond Medicated Lotion is my new ointment of choice now. It took away the pain and itchiness that I had from a sunburn and left it feeling cool and tingly.
Use Gold Bond Instead of Aloe
I have very fair skin and I burn very easy. Aloe vera doesn't really take the heat out of my burns so I use this: Gold Bond Body Lotion triple action relief for extra dry and itchy skin. It soothes and cools with aloa and vitamin E. After you put it on, it starts to make your skin cool right away and it stays like that for awhile. It's also great because since it's a lotion, it keeps your skin from peeling. It's a great alternative to shaving gel =]. Hope you all get better soon!
Aveeno Oatmeal Bath
I got so burned this weekend. I was sitting in cold baths putting on green gel and blue gel, regular lotion. Could not get any relief. It hurts to walk like I am getting shocked almost. I set in a cold bath with Aveeno Oatmel Bath in it, I used two. I got out still having some little shocks but my skin was cool and just had a nice pink color instead of red. It lasted for about 7 hours. It was great. I actually was able to sleep. I still have blisters but I am doing this about every 5 hours when I can. Got some Aveeno lotion has menthol in it and chamomile it is great both are expensive but they work.
Milk of Magnesia
Apply Milk of Magnesia to the burn. It will take the sting right out.
Beside cooling bath with whatever you use and any topical stuff like vinegar, aloe vera or whatever, take aspirin, not Tylenol or anything else. Aspiring will help relieve the inflammation as well as relieve the pain.
After Sun Product Recommendations
Aquaphor (from Euceric) is great for the blisters, and soothe-a-cain or Aloe After Sun are great. Also generic ibuprofen every 4 hours makes sun burn manageable.
DNA Repair Cream
Best product, will remove burn in 4 hours and leave a tan is 'DNA Repair Creme' by 'Synergy Worldwide' health product line.
My father got severe wind and sunburns on his face years ago. The doctor told him to buy Cetaphil (it has a green or blue label with white lettering). It is about $8 a bottle, and is sold and most supermarkets and at Wal-Mart, but one bottle usually lasts me one or more summers. We have been using it for years! My skin is very sensitive so aloe sometimes burns, not to mention that for the past 3 years, all sunscreen burns. I was on vacation in South Carolina and my cousin and I got very bad burns, we had blisters and all. We got Cetaphil at the supermarket that night and we missed a whole day of vacation, But it was only one day. Then we were able to get back out in that 100 degree humid weather and party for July 4th.
Just rub in as much as you can then leave a layer on top, you look like a freak but it will soak in. Repeat as often as it will soak in. AND drink as much water as you can!
A friend of mine was burned ALL OVER and she was in horrible pain, she could hardly move! I looked up natural remedies, and found these ideas. She felt so much better after. Take an Ibuprofen to relieve pain and inflammation. Take a cool bath with baking soda and/or oatmeal (she used soda). Then apply cream with cortizone in it (usually 1%). She said the cortizone made the biggest difference in the pain. She also applied aloe interchangeably. Give it a shot!
Burt's Bees Diaper Ointment
I'm a black woman and never thought that I'd get sunburn. I found out that I'm allergic to the sun. I cannot use sunscreen that has PABA in it because that will break me out too. Anyway, I used a lot of sunscreen yesterday at Water Country USA, but it didn't help. I still got burned. I had my children rub my back with "Burt's Bees Diaper Ointment", I got immediate relief. I could sleep peacefully and I'm not in pain. This stuff is wonderful for sunburns!
Use Sunscreen And Keep Your Skin Beautiful
Ibuprofen will help with some of the pain, we always used Noxzema for sunburn as kids. Now we wear lots of sunblock, reapply often and wear hats! Part of getting dressed for my kids is putting on sunblock since we're outside pretty much all day. I'd rather be white and pale then have to deal with melanomas and skin cancers on me or my kids. I love their beautiful skin and want to keep it that way!
Now to get off my soapbox.
Beware Continuous Spray Sunscreen
Don't use the continuous spray sunscreen stuff if you're going to be outside for a long time. First of all, even though it says it's waterproof, it washes off pretty easily. Second, it doesn't always cover all your skin and you will end up with a polka dotted sunburn (trust me I learned these thing the hard way, twice)
Watch Out For Allergies To PABA
For those who have said they used sunscreen and still got burned, check to see if it contains the ingredient PABA. You may be allergic and you could have SPF150 (if there was such a thing) and still burn as if you hadn't used sunscreen at all.
Step By Step Treatment For Bad Sunburn
A couple years ago my son began a job as a lifeguard at a waterpark here in Arizona. He neglected to put sun-block on and ended up with first and second degree burns across his shoulders.
Here's what I applied:
- Vitamin E oil: The brand I used was J/A/S/O/N Pure Beauty Oil (Vitamin E Oil). I bought it at the health food store. It was just under $6.00 for a 1 ounce jar. They also sell larger bottles that are less concentrated (and less expensive ounce for ounce), but the higher the IU of vitamin E the better. You can also buy pure vit. E oil; or buy the capsules and pierce with a pin or toothpick and squeeze out the oil.
- Silvadene Cream: (my doctor gave me a small jar). This is what they use in emergency rooms to treat burns. It contains silver which is a natural antibiotic and it doesn't sting when applied (good stuff). Another consideration for reducing the risk of infection is Colloidal Silver which comes in a liquid form; the higher the PPM (parts per million) the better. It can be taken internally (follow instructions on bottle) or can be applied directly onto skin. You can buy this at a heath food store as well.
Editor's Note: Make sure you don't take too much colloidal silver, it can turn you blue. Silvadene is however a wonderful burn cream.
- Aloe Vera: I used it strait from the plant, as the gel that I had contained alcohol which burned when I put it on. If you don't have access to a plant, you can buy pure aloe vera gel at a health food store.
After I applied these 3 things, I covered the area with non-stick gauze pads (taping them on with paper medical tape). I did this once a day.
When he returned a week later for a follow-up, the doctor was astonished at how well the burn was healing (it was almost completely gone).
Note: Another thing to consider is taking an antioxidant formula containing Vitamins A, C, and E; Zinc and Selenium. These destroy the free radicals that are caused by sun exposure and they protect the cells, thus reducing risk of skin cancer. (Remember: do not take more than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) unless advised by a health professional as some of these have the potential to become toxic if taken in high doses).
Hope this helps.
Baking Soda, Vinegar And Milk Remedy
We went fishing yesterday and forgot our sunblock. (we've now decided that the sunblock needs to be in the tackle box as part of our regular fishing supplies.) Anyway, we came home after stopping at Wal-Mart to get aloe gel with lidocaine for the pain. Immediate application of that helped temporarily. I got on this site and read through the tips, I vaguely remembered hearing about vinegar, but I wanted to verify it. After all my reading I took these steps:I got a small bowl with baking soda and poured some vinegar in (I use this as a home remedy to bring down high fevers fast. Rub it all over the body with a wash cloth.) Anyway I let it bubble then dipped a wash cloth in like I would for a fever and soaked the burned areas with it, redipping and adding more vinegar to the bowl as necessary. The reaction of the vinegar being neutralized by the baking soda produced a cold effect which feels great on hot skin. After I soaked all the burned areas, I let the mixture dry on my skin (you will have a white crust on your skin). Then I got all the canned milk I could find in the house (we were out of fresh :P) and filled a tub with canned milk and cool water (as cool as you can bear) and soaked the burned areas as long as I could stand being in the cold milk mixture. After all that I rubbed my skin with Crabtree and Evelyn's Sweet Almond Oil lotion and went to bed. My skin was definitely cool at that time and when I woke up it felt tight from being dry, but it wasn't hot and super sensitive like a burn normally feels. It was multi step and fairly gross, but I'll take smelling like salad and canned milk for a while over the pain of a long lasting burn.
By Fried Fishy
I got burned at the lake after using Baby SPF 50. Solarcaine worked good, but only for a few minutes and then left my blistered arms stinging. I just applied Noxzema or the store brand and caked (and I do mean caked!) it on! I looked like a ghost when I was done, but my arms feel so much better. I topped that off with Gold Bond Extreme Relief with Menthol (the green bottle). I feel so much better, still stings a little, but make sure to turn your fan on before you go to bed and, girls, I would suggest sleeping with no shirt on if you burn your arms or chest. It allows your skin to breathe!Vinegar does not work two days later, so do not waste your time. Cold showers are suggested. Also, when you need to shower, just gonna have to bear the coldness!
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