Ouch! Spent a little too much time in the sun? If your skin has gone ruby red, you need to act, fast.
Remember sunburn is evidence of actual damage to your skin, and just as with cuts and scratches, it should be treated to encourage quick recovery
What is sunburn?
Sunburn occurs when the skin becomes severely damaged due to extreme ultraviolet (UV) exposure. It can happen in as little as 10 minutes, and when it does, the skin works to defend itself from further damage.
The skin responds to extreme UV exposure in numerous ways, including:
- The dilation of blood vessels, which causes the skin to heat up and redden.
- Skin cells lose moisture, become dehydrated and surface skin tightens as a result.
- Skin cells start to thicken and melanin (pigment) is produced to prevent deeper layers from being damaged.
- The skin may peel in order to remove damaged layers which could otherwise become cancerous.
It's important to remember that, whilst the visual effects of sunburn can be treated, the interior damage done to DNA cannot be reverted. Whilst the home remedies below offer some 'relief' to sunburn, they cannot reverse the damage done by UV rays.
Immediate sunburn treatments
If you do happen to catch a few too many rays, it's important to act fast. There are five things you can do that will instantly provide relief and prevent further damage to sunburnt skin.
1. Get out of the sun
It may seem obvious, but the first thing you must when you're sunburnt is get out of the sun.
Ideally, you'll find salvation in a cool space - stone floored spaces are ideal! This alone will help you to cool down and reduce pain.
2. Cold shower
All those flared up blood vessels will need calming down if you want to reduce redness and inflammation, and the best way to do this is with a cold shower.
Enjoy the refreshing water as it falls over your burning skin - just be careful not to have the pressure on too high, as any kind of force could cause more discomfort.
3. Skip the skincare
If you're sunburnt, your skin's already under a lot of stress and will be more sensitive than ever.
For this reason, it's best to skip your standard skincare routine. Certain products may cause further irritation and slow down the healing process.
4. Apply an ice pack or cold compress
To cool down your skin further and reduce inflammation, you should apply ice packs or cold compresses to areas that are sunburnt.
Remember though, sunburnt skin is sensitive - always wrap ice packs in a towel before using them to lessen their severity.
5. Wear loose clothing
Once you've cooled down a bit and you can face the thought of putting clothes on again, choose them wisely.
You'll want to wear the loosest clothes possible in the lightest fabrics to prevent friction and keep your body cool .
Home remedies for sunburn
When it comes to treating sunburn, there are lots of different things to try that can work wonder and provide super-quick relief, the natural way.
1. Aloe vera
Aloe vera can work wonders for burns, but it has to be the real deal, ideally straight from a plant.
Aloe has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe angry skin and help the cells regenerate and heal much faster.
TRY IT: Gently apply 100% pure aloe vera gel directly to your sunburnt skin and allow it to soak in before dressing.
2. Hyaluronic acid
Although hyaluronic acid may sound scary, it actually exists naturally in the human body.
Despite what its name suggests, it actually has an extremely high water content so helps to rehydrate dry and tight sunburnt skin, which will aid in cell renewal and ease discomfort.
TRY IT: Apply Pestle & Mortar's Hyaluronic serum to burnt areas to rehydrate skin almost instantly.
3. Bicarbonate of soda
Bicarbonate of soda can be used for many things, one of which is helping to calm inflammation - particularly helpful for sunburnt skin.
TRY IT: Add 1/2 cup baking soda to a tub of cool bath water and soak for 20 minutes. It might be a bit nippy, but you'll come out feeling much better for it and experience fast healing as a result.
4. Brewed tea bags
If you're into living a waste-free lifestyle, you're sure to like this home remedy.
Brewed tea bags contain tannins which can help to remove heat from hot and angry sunburnt skin. Tea's antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties also speed up the healing process.
TRY IT: Brew a few black tea bags for about a minute, then remove and leave to cool. Once cool, apply directly to sunburnt skin and experience cooling relief.
5. Witch hazel
Similarly to many of the other home remedies, witch hazel also contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
It's important to note that not any form of witch hazel will do - it needs to be as pure as possible, as any other ingredients could aggravate the skin.
TRY IT: Apply pure witch hazel to a cotton wool pad, then gently dab onto the affected area.
Cucumbers are pretty refreshing in salads, and great for infusing ice cold water, so it makes sense that they'd provide some relief to sunburnt skin too.
This is perhaps the cheapest home remedy of all, and the easiest too.
TRY IT: Cut thin slices of cucumber and apply directly to sunburn. Alternatively, peel and mash cucumber until a paste is formed and apply to the skin.
What's so good about yoghurt? Probiotics. These will help restore the skin's natural protective layer. Not only that but yoghurt in itself is cooling, and will help you to soothe the burning sensation and calm red skin.
TRY IT: Grab a thick natural yoghurt pot (Greek is best) out of the fridge and apply a thin layer to sunburnt areas. Leave for 30 minutes before rinsing with cool water.
8. White vinegar
The idea of putting something as acidic as vinegar onto your sunburn may send shivers down your spine, but it could help you to get rid of sunburn.
9. Green tea
We're always told we should be drinking green tea, but did you know it can also benefit the skin, and specifically, sunburnt skin? All those antioxidants will do wonders for sore, damaged skin.
TRY IT: Steep green tea bags in water for 20 minutes then remove. Pour the liquid into a clean jar and add cotton wool pads, making sure they're thoroughly soaked. Leave to cool, then apply to pads to burnt areas.
Milk is another wonderful, natural way to get rid of sunburn. Similarly to yoghurt, cold milk is naturally cooling. Additionally, it contains Vitamin A and D which can speed up the healing process.
TRY IT: Apply milk to a clean, soft flannel, then use as a cold compress on your skin.
11. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is a marvellous natural beauty product that can be used to benefit everything from nails to hair.
With regards to sunburn, its high-fat content means it's great for moisturising skin - ideal for severe sunburn when the skin is dry and taught.
TRY IT: Use coconut oil when the skin has cooled. You can apply solidified oil directly to affected areas to treat it.
Besides our impressive array of home remedies for sunburn, there are three other technique you could try to reduce pain and heal skin overnight.
1. Steroid cream
Steroid or corticosteroid creams are often used for the treatment of swelling, itching and irritation, and may bring some relief to sunburnt skin, especially if applied relatively quickly.
2. Shaving cream
One of the weirdest methods we've come across to get rid of sunburn is using shaving cream. It was mum, Cindie who first brought this method to light, claiming that using shaving foam helped ease her sunburn in a matter of hours.
TRY IT: If you fancy trying this wacky treatment, apply menthol shaving foam to burnt areas and leave for 30 minutes before washing clean.
3. Anti-inflammatory tablets
Another thing that can help sunburn, especially if painful, is medication. Anti-inflammatory tablets such as Ibuprofen can help reduce swelling - take them soon after sunburn for best results.
Do you have any quick tricks for getting rid of sunburn? Share them with us in the comments below!