Published on September 7th, 2008 | by Stephanie Evans1
Soothing the Sunburn
You’ve enjoyed some fun in the sun and now the hint of a burn is setting in. What is your best first course of action, and which remedies will stave off the sting and help your skin repair itself?
A quick trip to the kitchen might reveal that you are fully equipped to soak and soothe your skin back to health…
If you suspect a mild to moderate sunburn…
- Apply some cool water to your skin right away—a spray bottle mist, bath, shower, or compress will do. You can add some witch hazel (1-2 cups for a bath) or cold black tea to the water, as both work equally well to soothe the burn. The water temp should be slightly cooler than that of your body.
- After soaking or spritzing your skin, allow your body to cool naturally or with the help of a fan. If you must dry off, pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it.
- Your body has just lost a lot of moisture through your skin—rehydrate aggressively and avoid the sun as your body heals.
If the burn appears to be blistering substantially or discolored beyond mild shades of red, seek immediate medical attention. If you observe these signs and/or you experience chills or a fever (indicative of a more severe burn), protect the area with a light, breathable cotton cloth and seek emergent care.
For thousands of years aloe vera has been used as a cure-all for a variety of health problems. The ancient Egyptians used it topically and orally to maintain beauty and health.
This natural healing gel, derived from aloe leaves, works as an anti-inflammatory that cools, moisturizes, and hydrates skin. It also helps reduce itching and swelling and offers anti-bacterial action. In drugstores, aloe vera is added to numerous post-sunburn products and lotions, but many of these products also include chemicals that can weaken its hydrating power and damage skin cells.
Look for organic aloe vera gels like these at your local health food store or natural grocery:
- Aubrey Organics Pure Aloe Vera contains natural preservatives, is vegan, and is biodegradable.
- Lily of the Desert’s Aloe Vera 80 contains at least 80% organic aloe.
- ShiKai uses pure aloe vera and vitamin E in their lotions.
If you are using fresh gel from a plant, cut a piece large enough to cover the affected area and place it peel side up. Secure the dressing with gauze.
Natural healers usually work best when paired with the power of other natural healers. It’s a good idea to combine treatments instead of expecting quick healing from a remedy used in isolation.
Dive into your cupboards for everything it takes to pair cool, herb-infused baths and compresses with direct applications of soothing skin repair creams and light, natural oils…
Try a 10-20 minute compress soak or a 20 minute bath containing one of these super soothers you may have on hand:
- Black Tea: The tannins in black tea will sap the heat and pain from your burn. Brew the tea until dark (an indicator that the tannins are released), cool it, and add to cool bath water.
- Witch Hazel: The astringency will help to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Add 1 – 2 cups to cool bath water.
Incorporate these soothing herbal oils into bath water or a compress soak:
- Chamomile: Add 20 drops to bath water.
- Lavender: Add 20 drops to bath water.
Once the burn begins to subside, gradually apply these directly to unbroken skin:
- Calendula: Calendula is credited with speedy wound healing and stimulating new skin cells, in addition to offering anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial power. Find organic creams and oils without many additives for direct application, or tinctures to add to baths.
- Comfrey: Comfrey comes equipped with allantoin, a natural, wound healing agent that stimulates the formation of healthy tissue. Look for comfrey salves, teas, or juices at your local health food store, or brew a tea from root and apply it to the affected area with a cotton ball or soft wash cloth. Do not apply to broken skin or open blisters.
- Vitamin E capsules
Take internally for healing from the inside out:
- Gotu Kola: Look for teas or tinctures of this incredible herb, which repairs damaged tissue and reduces inflammation. Gotu Kola, the snack food favored by grazing elephants in India, also boots memory, enhances circulation, and balances and supports the nervous system.