May and June are the hottest months in Pakistan, and some of us are more prone to sun damage than others. Excessive exposure to the sun can result in light-headedness, nausea, and of course, the dreaded sunburn that leaves skin red, inflamed, sensitive, itchy and irritated for the next few days. While there are several ways to treat sunburns naturally, wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t get sunburnt at all? Well, that’s possible but only if you take all the appropriate precautionary measures. Let’s take a quick look at them before we move on to the remedies.
How to Prevent A Sunburn?
None of us wants to get burnt to a crisp, and some careful considerations on our part can save us from a painful ordeal later on. There are only three simple things to prevent sunburn:
- Wear protective clothing such as hats/caps and sunglasses, along with full-sleeved shirts and long trousers when you go outdoors
- Avoid going out from 11 am to 3 pm when the sun is at its peak
- Apply an effective sunscreen on all areas exposed to the sun and repeat the process every 2 hours
Unfortunately, if you have not taken any of these precautions, or if it was not practically possible to take them during your picnic to the beach, then suffice to say that you’re probably looking for quick and effective ways to treat sunburns naturally. But first, let’s discuss the science behind sunburns.
Sunburns—The Science Behind the Condition
If you stay out in the sun for too long, you’ll get a sunburn. We’ve all been told that since we were kids. But how exactly does this happen? Well, UV rays of the sun are incredibly harmful to the skin and can kill the DNA inside skin cells. When this happens, the rapid death of cells prompts the human immune system to release inflammatory proteins as well as blood to the area with the hopes of helping or speeding the recovery.
During the process, your outer skin turns red and becomes hot and irritated. Unfortunately, the effects of a sunburn can only be recognised hours later, with the condition requiring a couple of days’ care and treatment, at the least, to heal.
Ways to Treat Sunburn Naturally
Sunburns can hurt, and it can be excruciating and irritating to wear tight clothes until your skin soothes and returns to normal. So, instead of waiting for your skin to return to normal, try these 9 ingredients to keep your skin moisturised and calm all day, and speed up the healing process:
While applying ice directly to the sunburnt skin might hurt you more, wrapping an ice cube in a cotton cloth and rubbing it over the skin for a few minutes can provide some much-needed relief from the itching and the pain. Use an ice pack if that’s available. Packs of frozen vegetables can work just as well for the purpose.
2. Aloe Vera
This cactus with its spiky leaves contains the cure to severe burns, including your sunburn. If you have a plant at home, break off a leaf, split it to gain access to the gel inside and apply it to your sunburnt skin. Do this 5 or 6 times during a day to get optimum results. Aloe Vera has a naturally soothing effect, so it will not only heal your damaged skin but also curb the irritation and itching, giving you quick relief.
If you don’t have an Aloe Vera plant at home, you can use pure aloe gel as well, which is available in the market quite commonly. Ideally though, if any of your neighbours have a plant, borrow a few leaves for your treatment and cultivate your own as soon as you’re better.
We all know how beneficial honey is for our health but did you know that you can also use it as a natural topical ointment to heal your skin? Apply pure honey to the sunburnt area and let it dry naturally. Do this thrice a day for a week and see the results!
Soaking in bath water that has a cup of oatmeal added to it can soothe your body, especially if you avoid drying yourself with a towel. This natural remedy for sunburns can be used daily until the skin is completely repaired. But what if you don’t have the luxury of getting into a bath? Well, not to worry.
In such circumstances, just cook your oatmeal with plenty of water. Make sure it has a runny consistency and then apply it generously to the skin once the mixture is cool. Do not rub the paste into your skin. Leave it there for half an hour before rinsing it off with cold water. Use the remedy twice or thrice every day for the best results.
Milk soothes the body, reducing acid reflux, heartburns, and a lot of other conditions. But it’s also quite effective against sunburns. Use cold and fat-free milk for the purpose. You can cool the milk in your refrigerator or add a few ice cubes to a bowl of milk to lower its temperature. Once it is cold, dip a clean cotton cloth into it and apply the wet cloth to the painful sunburnt areas. Do this for half an hour and then pat your skin dry with a soft towel. Do this around 5 or 6 times a day with 4-hour intervals until the pain subsides.
6. Baking Soda
Adding a handful (one cup, to be exact) of baking soda to your bath water (cold, of course) can also soothe sunburns effectively. Soak in the mix for about 15 minutes daily and let your body air-dry. Alternatively, you can also make a paste with water and 4 tablespoons of baking soda to apply to your skin using a cotton ball. Wash off the paste after 10 minutes. This natural remedy for sunburns should be practised twice until the condition improves.
7. White Vinegar
Well, this is a weird one. People bathe in rose water, and we’re asking you to bathe in white apple cider vinegar! But please don’t skip it until you’ve tried it. The acetic acid in white vinegar is also a component of aspirin and can help with the pain and itching associated with sunburns. A cup of white vinegar in your lukewarm bath water can bring relief to painful burns and inflammation in just half an hour daily.
For those who want to skip the experience, you can mix an equal amount of cold water and apple cider vinegar to soak paper towels in it. Apply the wet towels over your affected skin and leave them there until they are dry. Repeat the process several times a day for the best results. A word of caution, avoid this solution if you have open cuts on your skin as white vinegar can sting.
Both green and black teas have antioxidants that can help repair your skin. They also contain tannic acid which can soothe your skin. The process is fairly simple. Brew a pot of tea, no sugar or milk needed. Let the mixture cool off (ideally, in the refrigerator) before you soak a clean cloth into it and place it on your sunburnt skin for added relief for about 15 minutes or until it dries completely. Reapply around 4 times daily. There is no need to wash off the residue from the skin after application.
Prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to dehydration. This is why you must drink plenty of fluids in the summer months. While water itself cannot heal the sunburn, it is used in many healing processes of the body. If you cannot intake a lot of fluids, start eating some of the many foods that keep you cool in the summer to avoid dehydration. Additionally, taking a bath using cold water or dipping a cloth into ice-cold water and applying it to the skin are alternative remedies you can try to soothe your skin.
These are 9 of the top natural remedies for sunburn that can help you treat it naturally. Use them individually or combine a few at different times of the day for additional relief. Sunburns usually take a few days to heal depending on their severity, so be patient and keep your skin as cool as you can all day for a speedy recovery.