Sunburn Relief

Posted by Eve Horne on

In the summertime, families head outdoors for any number of activities: swimming, hiking, and visiting parks are just a few of the ways you can take advantage of long, sunny days. And while the basics of sun safety are well known - wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen regularly - sunburns do happen. Thankfully, a few simple steps can ease discomfort and soothe tender skin.

Sunburn Relief

When managing a sunburn, you want to first cool the skin with a lukewarm bath or shower. The water shouldn't be cold, but neither should it be as warm as you might normally take. And don't scrub the skin or apply products like soap, shower gel, or bubble bath. They can dry sensitive tissues, and the goal with a burn is to restore moisture.  

After you've gotten skin good and wet, pat yourself dry with a soft towel. Rubbing leads to further irritation, but light pats merely absorb excess water. Leave skin slightly damp to help the moisturizer you next apply absorb more quickly.

Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal is well-known for its calming properties and makes a great natural remedy for skin irritation. We don't, however, recommend that you pour loose oats into a bathtub; this creates a mess that must be scrubbed later, and once you've properly cared for your skin after a day outdoors, you'll want to rest instead of clean.

The best oatmeal bath is one taken with a pouch of ground oatmeal placed into cheesecloth or a thin sock. Tie off the top so oats can't escape and put the pouch into tepid bathwater. Let it steep for a few minutes, and then climb in and feel the oatmeal-infused water work its magic. Occasionally squeeze the pouch to drip more of its essence into the bath.

Baking Soda or Cornstarch

You have a few different options for treating scorched skin with baking soda or cornstarch. You can first develop a paste by mixing either ingredient with a little water. Gently apply the mixture to your skin so it can pull out the heat.

Another option is to put baking soda directly into a cool bath and soak in it. Once again, don't use any soaps or shower gels; simply let your skin absorb the baking soda for rapid relief. And, finally, you can lightly dust your skin with cornstarch to reduce friction with clothes. This might get a little messy, especially when sleeping on bedsheets, but it's a great way to protect skin and get the relief you need.


We have one final option for taking a soothing bath. Pour one cup of apple cider vinegar into the water and sink into it. Vinegar's acidic nature relieves inflammation, itching, and pain. Alternatively, if you don't want the vinegar in your tub, you can mix it with water, soak a washcloth in the liquid, and apply that to the skin for intervals of 10 to 15 minutes.

Additional Cooling Solutions

A moment ago, we mentioned an option for cooling your skin that doesn't require a bath or shower. We're going to provide two more similar options here: witch hazel and tea. Both contain tannins, a natural compound known to reduce inflammation. Likewise, both make great choices for topical application on the skin.

The easiest way to use either is with a compress. Simply pour onto a clean cloth cooled tea brewed from black or green tea leaves and apply it to the skin. Hold the cloth in place and reapply the tea as necessary. You can achieve a greater cooling effect by adding mint leaves as the tea brews. The witch hazel can be applied similarly; pour it onto a cloth or cotton pad and place it on affected parts of your skin.

Moisturize Your Skin

Now that skin is cooled, it's time to work on moisturizing it. Aloe vera is one of the best remedies, and juice straight from the plant moisturizes skin, speeds healing and eases discomfort. If you have a plant in your house, split one of the leaves and use a spoon to draw the liquid that's inside. You can also purchase pure aloe vera gel from a local store. Keep in mind some children suffer allergic reactions from aloe, in which case you'll need a different remedy.

Coconut oil is lauded for its ability to soften and protect burned skin. This should only be applied, however, after the skin is completely cooled and blisters have disappeared. If you've reached this point, and doing so may take a few days, apply the oil and allow time for it to gradually absorb. Otherwise, any oil-based product can trap heat and block pores to prolong your recovery time.

A Quick Tip

If you're prone to acne breakouts, skip the coconut oil and reach for a lighter option instead, such as jojoba oil. It delivers the same moisturizing benefits as coconut oil without clogging pores. Lesser-known tamanu oil, extracted from a tropical nut, similarly promotes new skin development under a burn.

The Power of Honey

The healing properties of honey are well-known, and its use as a skin treatment dates all the way back to Ancient Egypt. Today, research suggests it may work better than certain antibiotic creams to reduce pain and minimize infection. We can attribute this to three key activities honey performs within the body: 
  • Seals in tissue fluids that contain healing proteins and enzymes
  • Delivers nutrition to damaged tissues
  • Relieves inflammation

Using honey for burns is simple; apply it directly to the skin, especially blisters, and let it absorb. We do not, however, recommend this remedy for babies younger than one year. Accidental ingestion could put them at risk for infant botulism.

A Final Word on Moisturizing

Soy is recognized for its skin-loving properties, so look for a product containing this ingredient if you don't want to use the options listed above. Vitamin E also replenishes skin. A few ingredients you want to avoid include alcohol, which can further dehydrate tissues, and lidocaine and benzocaine; both will cause further irritation. Last but not least, steer clear of products that contain petroleum jelly so skin can breathe.

Hydrate Your Body

After you've been outdoors, it's important to rehydrate your body from within. This means drinking extra fluids to replace those lost - sunburn draws internal fluids to the surface and away from the body.

You can start with water, which will do the trick, but you may quickly grow tired of downing glass after glass of this liquid. Mix things up a little with aloe vera juice, loaded with nutrients that help your body detox, optimize organ output, and quickly rehydrate.

Coconut Water and Other Beverages

With its rich mineral and electrolyte content, coconut water is similarly beneficial for restoring balance to the body. It also reduces puffiness from the face, a nice added benefit after a burn.

You can additionally drink cold green tea garnished with lemon and mint or water with cucumbers sliced into it; and for a sweet treat, reach for a slice or two of watermelon. Any of these options will help you feel better and deliver fluids where they're most needed.

Spending the day outdoors can be tricky, but it is possible to quickly recover from a sunburn. Remember to cool and moisturize your skin and then focus on drinking plenty of fluids. To indulge in a little more self-care, visit Cameo Rouge today for products like silky body butters, energizing soaps, and nourishing bath bombs.

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