Natural remedies for sunburn

by | Nov 13, 2023 | skin health

Finally, we have some sunshine and isn’t it lovely! Except that the sudden gorgeous sunshine, means inevitably people are likely to get sunburned skin. If you have had too much sun exposure here are some natural remedies for sunburn with soothing and healing properties.


Exposure to ultraviolet radiation

I have to admit I am a sun lover. I think most people generally feel better in the summer months. And of course, direct sun exposure helps us produce vitamin D. But, over exposure to UV definitely causes harmful effects.

Radiation from the sun can cause severe sunburn and lasting damage to your skin. Unfortunately more than half of children get sunburned skin every year.

This is quite a scary statistic because having sunburned skin once every couple of years, can triple your risk for the most serious skin cancer.

Symptoms of sun damage

The most common sign of too much sun is reddened skin. This might cause you some skin irritation and maybe a heat rash.

Blisters and swelling are signs of damaged skin. And if you have fever and chills you could have heat stroke. Serious sunburn and heat stroke need medical attention.

If you experience fever, feel faint and weak and develop nausea or intense itching you should see a doctor.

Sun protection

Skin care products don’t always provide enough UV protection. You can still develop heat stroke if you are using sunscreen products.

If you have sensitive skin it is probably better to cover up, as skin protection products may not be enough to prevent bad sunburn. And, don’t forget that certain medications make human skin more sensitive to the sun. These include antibiotics, acne medications, and the oral contraceptive pill. The herbal remedy Saint John’s wort can also make you much more sensitive to the sun.

The best protection is to cover up with lightweight fabrics. Wear a wide-brimmed hat. And stay out of the sun for the hours around midday. Depending on where you are in the world, the sun’s UV radiation is strongest between 10am and 3pm. And don’t forget to protect your eyes with sunglasses.

Ease the pain with my top natural remedies for sunburn

The best thing to do, as with any burn is to cool it down. A lukewarm bath or shower should provide some instant relief.

I often hear ice recommended as a remedy for sunburn. If you are brave you could try an ice pack. Or a bag of frozen veggies will do as a cold compress. But, the extreme cold can be a quite painful means of sunburn relief.

Drink plenty of water to help stay hydrated.

Topical applications

These are some natural remedies for sunburn that you may want to try. Some of them are just based on old wives tales. While others, such as Aloe vera gel have quite a lot of supporting evidence.

Aloe vera

If you grow an aloe vera plant it is easy to slice open a leaf and apply the gel to any burn. It has many soothing and healing properties. It also helps to hydrate and promote healthy skin. Commercial aloe vera lotion is available and might be useful if there is a large area of sunburned skin.


Use ground oatmeal in a cool compress. Or add them to your lukewarm bath. They can help to soothe dry skin and painful sunburn.

Alternatively, cornflour or sodium bicarbonate may have a similar effect.


I have seen yoghurt work wonders on sunburned skin. It is anti-inflammatory, very soothing and healing. Apply to sore skin and leave in place, ideally for several hours, then rinse off in a cool bath.  Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar may have a similar effect. These can be added to the cool bath water.


The same proteins that are in yoghurt are in milk. The milk fat and proteins are likely the active ingredients that make milk anti-inflammatory. Mix one part of milk, with four parts of cold water. Soak a cloth in the milk and water mix. Apply the damp cloth to sore skin every two hours for around 15 mins.


Did you know lettuce can relieve pain? Add some washed lettuce leaves to a blender with enough cold water to blend it to a thick smooth liquid. Let the lettuce liquid cool in the fridge and then apply with a cotton ball for instant cooling relief.


The tannins in black tea are astringent and can help to reduce inflammation. Green tea leaves also have tannins, though less than black tea. But green tea has other anti-inflammatory properties. If you only have green tea, use that. Soak a couple of teabags in cool water, then apply the tea bag to the sore skin.

Remember to continue to drink cool water to slow the drying effects of the sun. If you have access to watermelon, this juice is also very hydrating and supplies some much-needed nutrients with antioxidant activity.

If your skin does blister, try not to pick or peel the layer of skin as it always makes things worse.


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