As we’re entering the final push of summer, you’ve likely experienced the uncomfortable, and sometimes excruciating, effects of sunburn. These symptoms often appear within a few hours after prolonged or intense exposure and may include inflamed skin, pain, tenderness, itching, or swelling (1).
While your body is fully equipped to heal these burns, by peeling the damaged skin's top layer and allowing the regeneration of new skin to form, there are many natural remedies to soothe irritated skin and support your body in this healing and regeneration. In today’s article, we’re going to discuss four of these natural remedies!
Aloe Vera is the oldest medicinal plant known and the most applied medicinal plant worldwide (2). Aloe helps to soothe skin injuries affected by burning, skin irritations, cuts, and insect bites, and its bactericidal properties relieve itching and skin swelling (3).
When purchasing aloe, your best bet is to purchase the whole plant and obtain the gel straight from the leaves. Not only is this more affordable in the long run (as aloe is very low maintenance) but it’s also the easiest way to avoid commercial products with chemical fillers and gums.
For added benefit, you can store the aloe fillets in the freezer for an added cooling benefit!
People have been using honey to treat wounds for hundreds of years. As a humectant, honey encourages the skin to retain moisture, which makes it a wonderful hydrating remedy for sunburns (4).
Additionally, honey has antibacterial properties, thus allowing injuries to heal without infection. Research has found that honey can protect against 80 different species of microorganisms. Honey also reduces inflammation and moisturizes the dry skin of a sunburn, soothing the pain (5).
The Herbal Academy suggests gently spreading honey over the burned area and leaving it on for 15-20 minutes. When done, rinse with cool water and reapply every few hours for further relief.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
ACV has been used as a healing agent from as far back as 400 BC, which means it has stood the test of time as nature’s very own medicine. It has strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and is an effective remedy for soothing sunburned skin.
The healing potential of ACV can largely be traced back to a cloudy mass in it called the “mother,” which is a combination of probiotics, beneficial enzymes, and proteins formed during the fermentation process (6). Always be sure to purchase organic, unfiltered ACV “with the mother”.
To utilize ACV for sunburn relief: mix equal parts of ACV and cool water, and gently massage this solution all over the sunburnt skin several times a day for a week or until your condition improves. You can also pour 1–2 cups of ACV into your lukewarm bathwater, and soak in it for about half an hour every day or as needed (7).
While we all know hydration is important, it’s a simple remedy we often overlook! A sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body (8). Drinking extra water when you are sunburned not only helps prevent dehydration but supports your body’s ability to heal and repair.
In addition to high-quality filtered water, you can hydrate with beverages like coconut water, herbal teas, and bone broth. It’s also important to reduce or eliminate your intake of diuretics like coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and juice.
You can also support your body’s hydration status by consuming water-rich foods, like watermelon, cucumber, lettuces, and celery, to name a few.
Whether you choose aloe vera, honey, ACV, hydration, or all 4 of these natural remedies, you’ll be supporting your body and bolstering its healing capabilities. If possible, avoid sunburn altogether by regularly applying a safe, non-toxic sunscreen and avoiding the sun at peak hours.
1. “Sunburn.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 24 June 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sunburn/symptoms-causes/syc-20355922.
2,3. Aloe Vera: The Miracle Plant Its Medicinal and Traditional Uses in India.
4. Justis, Angela. “How to Soothe Sunburns and Stay Cool Naturally.” Herbal Academy, 9 June 2021, https://theherbalacademy.com/remedies-for-sunburn-and-summer-heat/.
5. “Do These Common Sunburn Remedies Actually Work?” St. Luke's Health, 19 July 2020, https://www.stlukeshealth.org/resources/do-these-common-sunburn-remedies-actually-work#:~:text=Honey%20has%20antibacterial%20properties%2C%20thus,a%20sunburn%2C%20soothing%20the%20pain.
6, 7. “10 Surprising Beauty Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar.” EMediHealth, 24 Aug. 2021, https://www.emedihealth.com/skin-beauty/acv-beauty-benefits.
8. “How to Treat Sunburn.” American Academy of Dermatology, https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/injured-skin/burns/treat-sunburn#:~:text=A%20sunburn%20draws%20fluid%20to,allow%20the%20blisters%20to%20heal.