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Treatments for Sunburn?

by (486)
Updated about 10 hours ago
Created April 04, 2010 at 12:59 AM

I got a little overzealous today and spent way too much time in the sun. Long story short, I have a pretty bad sunburn and am wondering if people here have any homemade remedies or treatments for sunburns.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Robert

Deca3d3cb4fa349be861f38f2746c996
10 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

White as milk myself. No history of tanning after some decades of beach volleyball. Completely sunscreen dependent my whole life. Live now in the low freakin' hot sun-soaked desert. No longer use sunscreen. Started slowly, as have always done--a half an hour exposure. Was in the sun today for 3.5 hours. Warm here, in the Colorado Desert. No sunscreen. No burn. Difference from before? Paleo diet. No use of sunscreen all summer.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3
5802 · February 13, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Yep - I use cotton balls to rub apple cider vinegar directly on the burn. As often as possible. Prevents pain AND prevents peeling.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e
5201 · July 02, 2012 at 9:50 PM

I would also drink plenty of water as you are likely to be dehydrated.

Deca3d3cb4fa349be861f38f2746c996
10 · October 21, 2010 at 12:12 AM

I'd guess most paleo people have coconut oil about. Louisa, I use coconut oil as lip gloss. Never thought of using it as an after-sun balm. Thanks.

C1fb8666b1ae085507a76a4c494e4f0a
400 · July 04, 2010 at 1:24 PM

I was wondering about fish oil helping... thanks. Got burnt yesterday after about 8 hours in direct sun. I'll dose up with krill oil and see if that helps.

C1fb8666b1ae085507a76a4c494e4f0a
400 · July 04, 2010 at 1:23 PM

I still burn though not as quickly. Fair skinned and auburn hair... used to burn in 10 minutes or so, now I can go an hour or more before I have to start paying attention.I think it has more to do with what I am NOT eating (gluten, etc) than what I am eating.

A3bb2c70384b0664a933b45739bac32c
941 · April 05, 2010 at 1:38 PM

@gillie, great point. I should have put that in my comment. Solarcane makes one that only has some aloe in it, but the rest is chemicals. I have to watch for that kind of thing, because my wife is allergic to Lidocaine.

A3bb2c70384b0664a933b45739bac32c
941 · April 05, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Mowing the grass this weekend, I tried this out. Being a balding man, I mowed without my hat. I received a lighter burn than I used to and healed by the next night. I don't think it makes you invincible, but you will heal faster making it seem that way.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208
13983 · April 05, 2010 at 5:03 AM

Be careful with grocery store purchased aloe gels. Lots of them have other chemicals in them. Read the labels!! And check your ingredients here: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com

6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6
2119 · April 05, 2010 at 1:27 AM

Yes, it does seem to do that for me too. I do actually sunbathe for short periods when I can too. I'm starting to think that what people used to call a "base tan" is actually just Vitamin D sufficiency!

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13
10502 · April 04, 2010 at 7:55 PM

People have told me that once their saturated fat consumption went up, they were less likely to burn. Interesting.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78422 · April 04, 2010 at 3:20 PM

I second that @eakthekat- aloe is great and you can easily grow a plant to have it on hand when you need it.

C53665c3f012fa1ede91033b08a8a6e7
2269 · April 04, 2010 at 1:49 PM

"lots of fish oil (ingested, not applied externally!)" Whew, I'd hate to run around smelling like dead menhaden!

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107
15583 · April 04, 2010 at 9:21 AM

This is true to my own experience, although I found out that actually I can burn albeit with difficulty when I went hiking at altitude. (Slightly embarassing after bragging that I 'never' burn anymore!)

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5
1348 · April 04, 2010 at 2:20 AM

Not sure I buy that. I fry in minutes.

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16 Answers

A3bb2c70384b0664a933b45739bac32c
7
941 · April 04, 2010 at 3:27 AM

I've always used aloe vera. If you have a plant, you can just cut off a leaf and rub it all over. If not, you can find all kinds of aloe gels or lotions at your local grocery or drug store.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208
13983 · April 05, 2010 at 5:03 AM

Be careful with grocery store purchased aloe gels. Lots of them have other chemicals in them. Read the labels!! And check your ingredients here: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com

A3bb2c70384b0664a933b45739bac32c
941 · April 05, 2010 at 1:38 PM

@gillie, great point. I should have put that in my comment. Solarcane makes one that only has some aloe in it, but the rest is chemicals. I have to watch for that kind of thing, because my wife is allergic to Lidocaine.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78422 · April 04, 2010 at 3:20 PM

I second that @eakthekat- aloe is great and you can easily grow a plant to have it on hand when you need it.

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2
4
7063 · April 04, 2010 at 9:47 AM

Coconut oil inside and out. Eat it and slather it on. As Ryan says, I eat/use coconut oil for the sun, I eat a lot of it (works with butter too) and I apply it whilst I am in the sun and afterwards - I burn far less frequently and if I do get burnt it is very soothing.

An Aloe Vera leaf cut and applied directly on the burn helps too.

Deca3d3cb4fa349be861f38f2746c996
10 · October 21, 2010 at 12:12 AM

I'd guess most paleo people have coconut oil about. Louisa, I use coconut oil as lip gloss. Never thought of using it as an after-sun balm. Thanks.

C4d4a9db7ee3b315eae97795555a1177
4
623 · April 04, 2010 at 1:17 AM

@Rob and Scott, do you guys eat alot of coconut milk and/or oil? There are a few people on marksdailyapple in the forum that claim they never burn now that theyve gone Paleo even though they used to burn very easily before. They all ate alot of coconut products.

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5
1348 · April 04, 2010 at 2:20 AM

Not sure I buy that. I fry in minutes.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13
10502 · April 04, 2010 at 7:55 PM

People have told me that once their saturated fat consumption went up, they were less likely to burn. Interesting.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107
15583 · April 04, 2010 at 9:21 AM

This is true to my own experience, although I found out that actually I can burn albeit with difficulty when I went hiking at altitude. (Slightly embarassing after bragging that I 'never' burn anymore!)

A3bb2c70384b0664a933b45739bac32c
941 · April 05, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Mowing the grass this weekend, I tried this out. Being a balding man, I mowed without my hat. I received a lighter burn than I used to and healed by the next night. I don't think it makes you invincible, but you will heal faster making it seem that way.

C1fb8666b1ae085507a76a4c494e4f0a
400 · July 04, 2010 at 1:23 PM

I still burn though not as quickly. Fair skinned and auburn hair... used to burn in 10 minutes or so, now I can go an hour or more before I have to start paying attention.I think it has more to do with what I am NOT eating (gluten, etc) than what I am eating.

Deca3d3cb4fa349be861f38f2746c996
10 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

White as milk myself. No history of tanning after some decades of beach volleyball. Completely sunscreen dependent my whole life. Live now in the low freakin' hot sun-soaked desert. No longer use sunscreen. Started slowly, as have always done--a half an hour exposure. Was in the sun today for 3.5 hours. Warm here, in the Colorado Desert. No sunscreen. No burn. Difference from before? Paleo diet. No use of sunscreen all summer.

688aca0eb9e76d6a801a9691a8609399
3
30 · April 05, 2010 at 1:22 AM

Ahhhh.... Sunburn. I think you're supposed to pee on the affected area to alleviate the stinging sensation.

No wait... I think that was for a jellyfish sting. j/k (Seinfeld).

I swear that increased Vit. D has reduced my susceptibility for sunburns from a proactive standpoint. I'm on board with coconut oil and aloe after the fact.

6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6
2119 · April 05, 2010 at 1:27 AM

Yes, it does seem to do that for me too. I do actually sunbathe for short periods when I can too. I'm starting to think that what people used to call a "base tan" is actually just Vitamin D sufficiency!

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107
3
15583 · April 04, 2010 at 9:26 AM

For a cure, lots of fish oil (ingested, not applied externally!) should help, since sunburn is largely an inflammatory reaction and fish oil will suppress it. Green tea is also supposed to be effective.

Lots of vitamin A, carotenoids including lycopene, vitamin E and saturated fat will all help prevent sunburn, but I doubt they're anywhere near as potent as treatments after the event. (Lots of references here).

C53665c3f012fa1ede91033b08a8a6e7
2269 · April 04, 2010 at 1:49 PM

"lots of fish oil (ingested, not applied externally!)" Whew, I'd hate to run around smelling like dead menhaden!

C1fb8666b1ae085507a76a4c494e4f0a
400 · July 04, 2010 at 1:24 PM

I was wondering about fish oil helping... thanks. Got burnt yesterday after about 8 hours in direct sun. I'll dose up with krill oil and see if that helps.

9722850c9a1c47b79edf7c4233040248
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1276 · April 05, 2010 at 5:02 PM

If your skin is still warm or hot to touch, get in some cold water now! Or drape yourself in a bunch of wet towels and put ice on top. Replace the water/towels/ice as they get warm, and do this until your skin is nice and cool and stays that way. If you do this soon enough after burning, you won't even get red. I've treated several painful sunburns this way, never even got pink. I don't know if this reverses any unseen, deep-skin tissue or DNA damage (probably not, I guess), but you won't spend days in pain or get unsightly redness or peeling. I would follow up with aloe of some sort once the skin is cool, and stay well moisturized and hydrated too, for the sake of thoroughness.

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5
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1348 · April 04, 2010 at 1:12 AM

I'm all about this. As a primal ginger, I have been burned by many things, the sun is a bitch though. Of all the remedies I ever used, vinegar in the bath was the best. Regular tea being second.

Fa9f340eddbad9a544184c688fa4dcdd
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6433 · April 10, 2011 at 12:47 AM

A lot of people seem to be recommending the traditional burn remedy of applying some sort of fat to the affected area (where I live it's butter). However this is an old wive's tale, which seems intuitively right rather than being based on any particular evidence. It's actually counterproductive as the fat seals the heat into recent burns, causing them to "cook" and in the longer term its comedogenicity creates an environment conducive to infection. My advice? Slather the butter on your steak and stick to proven remedies like pure aloe vera gel, cool compresses and UMF manuka honey.

B3aa5369cae632a191ceb779897839d9
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30 · April 09, 2011 at 6:49 PM

My Russian parents would slather on the sour cream. It was pretty horrifying to me as a kid, but seemed effective.

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581
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4896 · April 06, 2010 at 4:27 PM

I remember when I was a kid the home remedy used was always sour milk (or here I guess it's buttermilk), I think kefir would be the same... But no idea if has any medical basis!

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13983 · April 04, 2010 at 2:24 AM

I suggest that you find a good quality kukui nut oil such as this one; but if you can't find kukui nut oil then try

  • coconut
  • almond
  • macadamia

and slather yourself with it morning and night until you're better.

I just did this to myself two weeks ago. So I slathered myself every morning and night with Alba kukui nut oil. I've healed just fine! No peeling!

D283315646cb0d66c4a9b1e7944f02b4
0
0 · February 13, 2013 at 8:02 AM

You can use aloe Vera in the different ways. So you will able to get the benefits from it for your health betterment as well. Aloe has some unique features which used in the cosmetics and the alternative medicine. Even you can use the aloe Vera products as the makeup remover. It is particularly extensively used in the fashion, cosmetic and cinema industry as well. This plant you can use for your skin and sunburn problem. For more information visit http://www.foreverliving.com/

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6229 · July 02, 2012 at 7:07 PM

I have a good number of moles and freckles so I still will tan. BUT if I don't wear cotton clothing and hat, AND forget some Devita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+ on uncovered skin parts like my face and hands I have sunburned after being in the sun from 12:30-4:30pm (4 hours) in 90F in New Hampshire in July. This happened after months of walking outside with no sunscreen in the heat in Boston, so I thought I could get away with it. I didn't put sunscreen below my neck and yikes it hurt. Yes, Indian people can burn too!

I used Aloe Life Skin Gel: within an hour of the burn and 80% healed in 1 day (it was a mild sunburn but it hurt so I knew it was a burn and NOT A TAN)! FYI: I don't know if this will be as effective if you are blonde/redhead but it can't hurt to try as I have raven colored hair...

http://www.aloelife.com/ezStore123/DTProductZoom.asp?productID=7

Ingredients 99% Certified Organic Whole Leaf ALoe Vera Juice Concentrate #5-215-365 TDA, Seaweed - thickening agent, Palmitate (Vitamin A), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Azulene (Chamomile Extract), Allantoin (Extract from Comfrey), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate. NO WATER ADDED!

Someone on PH recommended Devita sunscreen products and I like it since it has no funny, fake, funky smells like conventional sunscreen:

They have multiple products with different ingredients but this one I liked because it was the fewest number of sketchy ingredients. http://www.devitaskincare.com/store/solar-protective-moisturizer-spf-30-p-17534.html

NO NANO TECHNOLOGY! (average particle size is 240 nm). ACTIVE INGREDIENT: Zinc oxide 19%. INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Aloe barbadensis (certified organic aloe vera gel), Purified Water (aqua), Capric/caprylic triglycerides (derived from coconut oil), Glycerin (vegetable), Hyaluronic acid (vegan source), Glyceryl stearate SE (derived from vegetable oil), Stearic acid, Lecithin phospholipid, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Allantoin, Vitis vinifera (grape) seed extract. Ingredient labeling adheres to international INCI standard

For more Paleo Diet hacks: Sunburn/insect resistance? - PaleoHacks.com http://paleohacks.com/questions/122718/sunburn-insect-resistance#ixzz1zUfKc9yy

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180 · June 27, 2011 at 8:08 AM

As someone mentioned above - vinegar. I used to burn easily, before paleo, vitamin D, and building up a base. Vinegar is extremely effective, it will soothe the burn and prevent peeling.

I put it in a spray bottle, get in the shower and cover the burn and let it air dry. Repeat every half hour for a few hours. You will smell but it will work. The only catch is you need to get the burn within a few hours of getting it, the longer you wait the less effective it is.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3
5802 · February 13, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Yep - I use cotton balls to rub apple cider vinegar directly on the burn. As often as possible. Prevents pain AND prevents peeling.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64
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11478 · April 09, 2011 at 10:38 PM

Supplements such as vitamin D and fish oil are slow-acting, and probably better for prevention than for treatment after the fact.

For fast-acting anti-inflammatory treatment, I suggest a non-paleo solution: aspirin. Take 650mg every 4 to 6 hours, starting as soon as possible after sun exposure. Children should substitute ibuprofen for aspirin to avoid the risk of Reye syndrome.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e
5201 · July 02, 2012 at 9:50 PM

I would also drink plenty of water as you are likely to be dehydrated.

Dcef9c9f5277c46da3eb7662d754876e
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155 · April 04, 2010 at 11:20 AM

I'm blond with blue eyes and fair skin. I've had a quite a few sunburns in my life.

The best after the fact thing for me is aloe. And if you peel, do not pick! Use a washcloth to gently remove the dead skin.

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