It’s hard to resist soaking up the first few rays of summer sunshine, but sometimes lounging in the sun can come with a price. If you forget to put on sunblock, you can end up with a nasty sunburn. The outer layers of your skin become inflamed by overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and the affected area gets hot and tender. Fortunately, there are some tried and true home sunburn remedies that can soothe your stinging skin. Try these ten suggestions to cool off, but remember: repeated sunburns cause your skin to age more rapidly, and increase the risk of cancer, so slather on that sunscreen the next time you venture into the sun.
1. Soak it up. For immediate relief, soak the sunburned areas in cold water (but not ice water) or with cold compresses for 15 minutes. The cold reduces swelling and wicks away heat from your skin.
2. Take a dip. If you’re burned all over, take a soak in a cool bath to which you’ve added oatmeal. You can either buy a colloidal oatmeal product, such as Aveeno, or simply grind up a cup of oatmeal in a food processor and add it to your bath.
3. Give yourself a green tea compress. Brew up a pot of green tea and let it cool. Soak a clean cloth in the tea, and use it as a compress for sunburned areas. The tea contains ingredients that help protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation damage and reduce inflammation.
4. Freshen up with mint. Use the cooling, aromatic qualities of peppermint to quell the scorch of a sunburn. Either make peppermint tea or mix two drops of peppermint oil with a cup of lukewarm water. Chill the concoction and gently bathe the sunburned area.
5. Bring veggies to the rescue. For extra-painful spots of sunburn, rub the area gently with sliced cucumber or potato. They contain compounds that cool the burn and help reduce swelling.
6. Try some vinegar. Vinegar contains acetic acid—one of the components of medications such as Aspirin. It can help ease sunburn pain, itching, and inflammation. Soak a few sheets of paper towels in white vinegar, and apply them to the sunburned areas. Leave them on until the towels are dry. Repeat as needed.
7. Take a vinegary bath. If the sunburn itches, take a cool bath, but add two cups of vinegar to the bathwater before you get in.
8. Coat yourself. Mix baking soda and vinegar to make a thick paste, and slather it over the sunburned areas. Apply the salve before bedtime, and leave it on overnight.
9. Make your bed sunburn-safe. Sprinkle your sheets with cornstarch to minimize painful chafing. (Use this technique only for bad sunburns, since you’ll have to wash the sheets afterward.)
10. Go for aloe. Apply a light coating of pure aloe vera to the sunburned skin, using either a fresh piece from the plant or in the gel form you can buy at the drugstore. If you buy the gel, make sure it’s 100% pure aloe vera.