5 Effective Home Remedies to Treat a Painful Sunburn

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Sunburns, also known as erythema, are burns caused from exposure to direct sunlight. In cases of severe burns, individuals may seek medical assistance. If you are also experiencing headache, nausea, dizziness, or other signs of heat stroke, you should call your doctor or go to a nearby hospital.

Thankfully, most sunburns can be attended to at home and healed over the course of a few days to a week. While it’s important to protect against sunburn by limiting your time in the sun and applying sunscreen properly, it’s equally important to know how to treat the pain and redness that accompany sunburn. From aloe vera lotions to cool baths, here are a few at-home remedies that can soothe the dreaded sunburn pain.

Stay Cool

One of the simplest ways to relieve the pain of a sunburn? Use a cool compress on your burned skin. Avoid applying ice directly to your skin, as that can further damage the burnt area. Instead, simply soak a cloth in cool water or wrap a reusable compress in a towel. 

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You can also use cold milk, which leaves behind a protective, healing layer of protein on the surface of your skin. Best of all, staying cool can help relieve other symptoms related to too much sun exposure, including dizziness and headaches. With this in mind, it may be best to hang out indoors and enjoy air conditioning or fans after a bad burn. 

Take a Bath

Hot baths only cause more pain, but a cool bath can help soothe your symptoms. Consider adding a little apple cider vinegar to the tub, which can encourage faster healing. Don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand? A few tablespoons of baking soda can also prove to be soothing.

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Additionally, oatmeal baths, which are used to treat hives and other skin reactions, can be a very effective way to soothe your sunburn, too. Simply add uncooked oatmeal to your bathwater; one to two cups should be enough for an average-sized tub. To help avoid cleanup later, put the oatmeal in a tube sock and tie off the top.

Apply Aloe Vera & Vitamin E

Aloe vera and vitamin E are two compounds that have been shown to soothe and heal sunburns. While you can use components directly from an aloe vera plant, you can also buy a variety of lotions that contain both ingredients from your local pharmacy. 

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If you have sensitive skin or other skin conditions, be sure to find a soothing product or lotion that works best for you. Moreover, be sure to avoid over-the-counter sunburn lotions that contain lidocaine and benzocaine.

Add Some Honey

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Honey can be applied to one’s skin to help soothe a sunburn. In addition to soothing one’s skin, honey can reduce inflammation and protect against bacteria, reducing the risk of infection. As an added bonus, honey can also moisturize one’s skin, which is always helpful when it comes to healing sunburnt skin. 

Have Some Tea

Staying hydrated after getting a sunburn is important, but tea can also be applied topically. Teas contain tannic acid, which creates a cooling sensation and may help restore your skin’s natural pH balance; this, in turn, promotes healing. Before applying it, boil the tea and let it soak for an hour. Afterward, chill it — remember heat isn’t great for sunburn — and use a clean cloth to apply the tea to your skin. So long as they aren’t too hot, you can also lay the tea bags directly on your skin.