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Do These Common Sunburn Remedies Actually Work?

Jul 20, 2020

While it’s important to regularly practice sun-safe behaviors and wear sunscreen to avoid sunburns, accidents happen sometimes. We know the stinging, dry skin can be uncomfortable, and you’re probably looking for a way to get it to stop. There are plenty of natural remedies that can provide relief, so skip the vinegar and butter, and try one of these instead.

Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera gel comes from the inside a specific type of succulent, and you can buy bottles of it just about anywhere. This gel contains a compound called aloin, which has been shown to stop inflammation and soothe irritated skin. Aloe vera gel also moisturizes the skin, preventing the dry, flaky skin that comes with a healing burn. When buying aloe vera gel, choose a formula without lidocaine or benzocaine.

Colloidal Oatmeal Bath

Colloidal oatmeal, a type of ground oats, is often mixed into a bath to soothe large swatches of sunburns. These oats can hold a lot of moisture and transfer that moisture to your skin, easing the discomfort of dry, flaky skin. Colloidal oatmeal also contains several different antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation. You can find packets of colloidal oatmeal in most stores near the lotions and skin products.

Milk

While soaking a sunburn in milk may sound odd, it can actually help. Milk contains lactic acid, which acts as a gentle exfoliant and removes dead skin from the top of the burn, and antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation. The cold temperature of the milk will also soothe the sunburn. To use this therapy, fill a bowl with milk, place a small washcloth in, and let it rest in the fridge for a while. When it is cool, gently apply it to the burn.

Honey

People have been using honey to treat wounds for hundreds of years. Honey has antibacterial properties, thus allowing injuries to heal without infection. In fact, research has found that honey can protect against 80 different species of microorganisms. Honey also reduces inflammation and moisturizes the dry skin of a sunburn, soothing the pain.

Sunburns can increase your risk of developing skin cancer, and it’s important to regularly perform self-exams to look for any new or troublesome spots. If you discover an irregular mark or growth on your body, visit your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician for a skin screening.

Sources:

Parents | 10 Natural Remedies for Sunburns
PubMed | Colloidal oatmeal: history, chemistry and clinical properties
HelloSkin | The Use of Colloidal Oatmeal in Skin Care
NCBI | The Effect of Aloe Vera Clinical Trials on Prevention and Healing of Skin Wound: A Systematic Review
NCBI | Aloin Suppresses Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Inflammatory Response and Apoptosis by Inhibiting the Activation of NF-κB
Insider | The 3 fastest ways to get rid of a painful sunburn, according to a dermatologist
NCBI | Up-to-date use of honey for burns treatment
Good Housekeeping | Your Sunburn Cure Has Been in Your Fridge All Along: It's Cold Milk!