Summer sunburn season is here…and despite our best intentions, sooner or later many of us will end up looking like a tomato.
First comes the pain. Then the itch. And finally the ugly peeling. The misery can last for the better part of a week.
But you can shorten your discomfort by using any of these seven natural solutions that reduce pain and speed skin healing:
- Vinegar Soak. Mix one cup of white or apple cider vinegar into a bathtub of cool water. Doctors say the acetic acid in the vinegar acts as a topical pain reliever equivalent to an over-the-counter pain medication.1Your skin has a thin protective layer of natural compounds called the acid mantle. It has a pH of about 5.5. Soaking in a mild acid solution will help your skin rebuild this protective coating. Stay in the bath for 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t use soap or bubble bath. These will dry and irritate your skin further. After soaking, rinse with cool water.2
- Aloe Vera Ice Cubes: Freeze an ice cube tray filled with aloe gel. Soak a cloth in cold water and then wrap the cubes in the cloth. Apply the cloth over the sunburn for several minutes and then repeat a few times. The coolness will reduce inflammation. And the aloe promotes healing.3
- Lavender Oil: Lavender has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It provides immediate cooling relief. It also promotes healing and new skin growth. Add a few drops of lavender oil to a cold, damp washcloth and apply it to sunburn.4
- Vitamin D: A study at Case Western University found that taking a single high dose of vitamin D within an hour of being sunburned provides fast relief. It eases pain, reduces inflammation and redness, and speeds skin repair. The researchers said the vitamin D increased the levels of anti-inflammatory enzymes that trigger skin repair.5The study used a single dose of 100,000 IUs. This is extremely high. But researchers found it was safe and non-toxic, as long as subjects took only one dose.
- Peppermint Oil: A study published in the journal Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research found that peppermint oil stimulates cold receptors on your skin and dilates blood vessels. This relieves pain.Mix one to three drops of peppermint oil with a teaspoon of aloe vera and one cup of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray on burned skin.6
- Tea Tree Oil: Research published in the International Journal of Dermatology found that tea tree oil speeds sunburn healing. And there’s evidence it also protects against skin cancer. It is an anti-inflammatory and it kills germs that can cause skin infections. Dilute a couple drops with 2 tablespoon of coconut oil or aloe vera before applying.Some people are sensitive to tea tree oil. So apply it to a small area first to test your reaction.7
- Tea Bags: If you have ever fallen asleep in the sun, you may have experienced the pain of burned eyelids. It’s difficult to treat with oils and lotions because they can get into your eyes. Try this instead… Apply tea bags soaked in ice-cold water. The tannic acid in the tea eases the pain and decreases the swelling. And tea is gentle on eyes.8
Never Do These Two Things Before Going Out in the Sun
There are some absolute no-no’s that will help you avoid a burn in the first place—and skin cancer later on:
- Using Perfume: Many fragrances make your skin more sensitive to sun. Stay away from perfumes and colognes if you’re going to be outside.9
- Forgetting to Check Drug Labels. Antibiotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, tranquilizers, antifungals, birth control pills, and diuretics are just some of the drugs that can make you more sensitive to the sun.Check the label of any medicine you are taking before going out for a day in the sun. If your medication does cause photosensitivity, then cover up or use a quality organic sunscreen.10
One more thing…
Mainstream doctors often advise using sunscreen every day, before you set foot outside. This has contributed to an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Your body creates vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Sunscreen short-circuits this natural process.
One study found that three-quarters of Americans don’t have enough vitamin D. This can lead to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.11
Try to get at least 15 minutes of sunscreen-free sun exposure every day. This is not enough to burn you. But it will give you plenty of the vitamin D you need to stay healthy.