6 Natural Solutions To Help Heal A Sunburn Quickly

While we all enjoy the warmth of the sun, it's possible to get a little too much of it, and the consequences can show up on our skin. Sunburns are one of the most unpleasant parts of spending time under the sun, whether it's at the beach or in our own backyard. Not only can it result in redness, pain, and peeling, but it can also accelerate the aging of our skin. Even worse, sunburns are the leading cause of skin cancers, including melanoma — the deadliest form of the disease.

Although people with fair skin are most prone to sunburns, anyone can experience this inflammatory reaction, which stems from exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. Typically, a sunburn will appear a few hours after exposure, and it can come with a wide array of symptoms. Aside from redness and inflammation, you might experience swelling, itchiness, blisters, and tenderness. Severe burns that require medical attention may result in headache, fatigue, and eye or vision changes — do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor if you notice these symptoms.

A mild sunburn usually heals within a few days, but you can try a few natural solutions at home to speed up the process. Aloe, tea, and coconut oil are all part of the equation.

Aloe vera

It's worth noting that even if you've only suffered a mild sunburn, it's impossible to get rid of it overnight. Aloe vera is a popular sunburn remedy, and for a good reason — this plant contains a substance called aloin, which can reduce inflammation and moisturize your skin. Aloe vera is also naturally antibacterial, limiting the chance of developing an infection as your burn heals.

If you don't have any aloe vera lotion or gel at home, you can still reap its benefits if you have the plant on hand. Simply slice open one of the leaves, and use a spoon to remove its insides. Mash it up and apply it to your burn for quick relief.

Be mindful of how your skin and sunburn react to the aloe vera. If you notice worsening symptoms, clean the wound and do not continue using your aloe vera — this could be a sign of an allergic reaction. If you begin to experience difficulty breathing, rash, or irritation, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Oats and baking soda

If you're already feeling the burn, the last thing you might want to do is take a bath. However, a cool one with oats can help soothe your irritation and minimize inflammation. It might sound strange, but oats are known for having anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them ideal for sunburns. For similar reasons, many people turn to oatmeal baths to relieve inflammation due to chickenpox.

Once you've run your bath with cool water, add in a few cups of oats. Alternatively, you can put them in a tea bag or cheesecloth to reduce cleaning after your bath. To boost the impact of your home remedy, you may want to consider adding baking soda to the mix. The combination of oats and baking soda can potentially minimize the damage done by the sun and help your skin retain moisture.

After at least 15 minutes of soaking, you can get out of the bath. Just be sure to dab yourself with a towel — not scrub — as you dry off. Taking the time to gently dry your skin can prevent further irritation.

Tea

Rather than sipping on a cup of tea, think of how you can use those tea bags to potentially heal your sunburn. Both black and green teas contain antioxidant compounds known as catechins. These compounds have become renowned for helping repair skin damage, and they can also relieve swelling after a painful sunburn.

While black and green teas are all ideal, chamomile tea is the popular go-to natural remedy for burns. To use it on sunburn, steep the tea as you normally would, then allow it to cool. Soak a towel in the tea, then apply the cloth to your sunburn for relief. Over time, the chamomile should help reduce any inflammation.

Keep in mind that chamomile tea is an herbal blend, and chamomile itself comes from the Asteraceae (daisy) family. If you are allergic to the plant or its pollen, it's best to steer clear of this natural home remedy. In the event that you use chamomile on your sunburn and start to feel nausea, stomach cramps, or irritability, remove the towel immediately. If you notice worsening symptoms or experience hives, itching, or swelling, do not hesitate to seek medical attention.

Coconut oil

Many people know that coconut oil can be beneficial for your hair and skin, but did you know that it can also come in handy while healing a sunburn? Although no hard science points to coconut oil being the solution to burns of any type, research suggests that high-fat compounds can speed up the healing process. If you want to try coconut oil on your sunburn, however, it's important to wait it out — this natural remedy should not be the form of treatment. 

To reap its supposed benefits, your sunburn should be cool to the touch, which can take up to a day. After you've given your skin some time out of the sun, cool the sunburn down even further with a cold compress or chilled, damp towel. Afterward, rub the coconut oil into the affected area for relief. If it is still in a solid state, warm it up in your microwave beforehand until it is melted. The high-fat content of this oil is thought to help soften and soothe skin. It can also restore moisture to the burned area, which may reduce itchiness.

Water

Water is often overlooked as one of the simplest natural solutions for a sunburn. Even if you drink water all day under the sun, you'll want to continue hydrating afterward if you notice a burn. By staying hydrated, you can counteract any dryness that may arise as a result of your sunburn. Remember that you can get water from sources other than your tap — many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and tomatoes, primarily consist of water. Ensuring that you're hydrated after receiving a scorching from the sun can also prevent dehydration.

One of the easiest opportunities to use water to your advantage is after a cool bath or shower. As you gently pat yourself dry with your towel, try to leave a little water on the surface of your skin. Then, apply a moisturizer to trap the water — this can relieve dryness, especially on your burn.

When you're out and about, try to stay on top of your moisturizing routine to help your skin repair itself post-burn. Moisturizers that contain ingredients such as aloe vera, soy, and oatmeal, can all help soothe your skin and speed up the healing process.

Witch hazel

One natural remedy you may not have considered for sunburn is witch hazel. This plant has been used for medicinal purposes for ages and is known for its anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. While you might have seen witch hazel as a decorative part of a yard, its stems can be boiled to create an extract, making it a multifaceted plant to own. That being said, witch hazel extract can also be found in most pharmacies.

Like tea, witch hazel is high in tannins and known for its anti-inflammatory properties. To use witch hazel on your sunburn, soak a damp cloth or cotton ball in the extract and then apply it to the affected area. Similarly, you can fill a spray bottle with witch hazel extract and apply it to your sunburn. This home remedy can reduce swelling, as well as pain.

Although it's rare, some people are sensitive to witch hazel. If you notice worsening sunburn symptoms, redness, or itchiness, stop using witch hazel immediately. Contact your doctor if you have further concerns about your sunburn or questions about at-home treatment.