13 Effective Natural Sunburn Relief Methods to Try this Summer

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If you’re looking for effective, natural sunburn relief methods, these 14 home remedies for sunburn are effective ways to stop the pain.

natural sunburn relief

Summertime is a time for fun in the sun, but there’s such a thing as too much sun. Sunburns are one of the most common injuries people suffer from during the summer season. 

As a parent, I can tell you that one of the worst feelings is when your kiddos get a sunburn. As a fair, freckled strawberry blonde, I’ve had my share of sunburns. I’ve had horrible painful blisters and red, burning skin that lasted for days. All that repeated sun exposure and those burns puts me at greater risk of skin cancer.

And as a mom of two red-headed girls, our first sunburn relief method is to avoid them in the first place. However, that’s not always the case.

From personal experience, cloudy days, being at high altitude, or spending hours in the water are all risk factors for getting bad sunburns. Luckily, there are several natural sunburn remedies and I’ve tried them all over the years.

Choose one from the following list for an effective way to make your sunburnt areas feel better.

Note: I am not a medical doctor, and this post should not be construed as medical advice. I am simply sharing natural sunburn relief methods that have worked for my family.

Types of Sunburns

A sunburn is caused when the skin is overexposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Moderate sunburns can cause inflammation of the skin, headache and a mild fever. Bad sunburns or sun poisoning can cause upset stomachs, nausea, disorientation, dehydration, confusion and more. If you have these sunburn symptoms, you need to get to seek medical treatment right away.

There are different types of sunburns, depending on how long the skin was exposed to UV rays:

First-degree sunburn:

This type of sunburn affects the top layer of skin only. The skin will appear red and might be slightly swollen.

Second-degree sunburn:

This type of sunburn affects the second layer of skin. The skin will appear red, swollen, and might have blisters.

Third-degree sunburn or sun poisoning:

This is the most serious type of sunburn and it affects all layers of the skin. The burn affects all layers of the skin and can destroy nerve endings. It’s rare to get a third-degree sunburn, but it can happen if you are taking any medications that make you more sensitive to sunlight or if you fall asleep or otherwise spend hours and hours in the sun. 

*A third degree sunburn is a medical emergency. If you have third degree sunburns you need to seek medical attention to facilitate your healing process.*

chamomile tea for sunburn

Chamomile Tea for Sunburn + 13 More Effective Natural Sunburn Relief Methods

Several home remedies can help relieve the pain and discomfort of sunburns. In this article, we’ll share 15 natural sunburn remedies that really work. A lot of the methods use items found in our natural medicine cabinet. You might find some of the items in your pantry as well.

1. Chamomile tea for sunburn relief

Several types of tea can help soothe your sunburnt area. Black tea, green tea, and chamomile tea are all effective ways to get relief.

  • The benefits of chamomile tea include: Chamomile tea has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • It can also help you sleep and relax
  • And it can reduce the redness minor burns leave behind

To use tea as a natural sunburn remedy, first, boil water. Add chamomile tea bags and let the tea steep. Cool it to room temperature then apply to your sunburnt areas by soaking it in a clean cloth. You can also apply the tea bags directly to your skin or even add lukewarm chamomile tea to your cool bath for a good soak.

If you don’t want to use chamomile tea, you can do the exact same thing with green tea or black tea. If you use tea as natural sunburn relief, make sure to drink some too. It an easy way to make sure you stay hydrated.

relax cool bath

2. Take a cool bath or shower

One of the quickest and most effective ways to relieve sunburn pain is to get in the bath and soak. The cool bath water will help to soothe the burned skin and the heat will help to draw out some of the inflammation. 

If you can adjust the pressure of your shower head, change it to the most gentle setting available. High water pressure, even with cold water, can be painful when it hits your skin.

Adding the following natural items to your bath can help provide soothing relief for nasty sunburns:

Baking Soda Oatmeal Bath

Add a few heaping tablespoons full of baking soda plus one cup of oats to a bathtub full of cool water. The baking soda can help lessen the sun damage and the oats can help soothe your skin and also help it retain its moisture.

3. Apply a wet, cool compress.

If you don’t want to take a full bath or shower, you can still get some relief by applying cold compresses to the affected area. The cold compress will help to draw out the heat and soothe the pain.

4. Use a moisturizing lotion

After you’ve taken a cool bath or shower, apply a moisturizing lotion to your skin. Make sure your skin is cool before you apply oil.

This will help to replenish the lost moisture and protect your skin from further damage. Be sure to choose a lotion that is designed for sensitive skin.

Some oils, like coconut oil, can trap heat in your skin and make your sunburn feel worse. So use oils sparingly and only if your skin is already cool to the touch.

aloe plant for natural sunburn relief

5. Apply aloe vera – one of the best for natural sunburn relief

Aloe vera is a natural remedy for sunburns. It contains compounds that help to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. You can apply aloe vera gel directly to the affected area or you can purchase it in gel form.

aloe vera leaf for sunburn

We keep a large aloe vera plant specifically for sunburns. The gel from the leaves provides instant relief. To use gel from this easy to grow succulent plant, simply cut off a leaf, cut off the tip, cut off the spines, and split the leaf open. Rub the gel directly on the affected areas. Store cut leaves in a baggie and keep in the fridge if you don’t use all the gel.

6. Take ibuprofen.

If you’re in pain, taking ibuprofen can help to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with sunburns. Be sure to follow the directions on the package and never take more than the recommended dosage.

7. Drink plenty of fluids

It’s important to stay hydrated when you have a sunburn. The skin needs fluid to heal and the body needs fluid to flush out the toxins that can cause inflammation. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeinated beverages, as they can actually dehydrate you.

8. Eat foods with high water content

Staying well hydrated when you have a sunburn is key. In addition to drinking fluids, you should also eat foods that are high in water content. These include fruits and vegetables, as well as soups and stews. Eating these types of foods will help to keep your body hydrated and promote healing. 

Food with high water content includes: 

  • Cucumber
  • Watermelon
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries 
  • Cantaloupe
  • Lettuce

9. Avoid the sun

This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to avoid exposure to the sun if you already have a sunburn. The sun can actually make the burns worse and delay healing. 

If you must be in the sun, be sure to wear cool, loose clothing for sun protection and apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Seek shady areas whenever possible. And make sure to set a timer so you remember to reapply that sunscreen.

Find a safe and effective, reef friendly sunscreen using EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens. We really like Alba Botanica spf 50 clear spray. It’s ranked 3 out 10 on EWG’s sunscreen guide. Head over to the EWG to see how your favorite sunscreen ranks.

Protective clothing is always a good idea when you need to be out in the sun. Sun hats, sun shirts, sun glasses are one of the easiest ways to avoid skin irritation and bad sunburn in the first place. You know the old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!!

10. Stay cool

If you can, stay indoors in a cool environment. This will help to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with sunburns. If it’s not possible to stay indoors, try to find a shady spot outdoors and make sure to stay out of the sun.

11. Try a cooling spray

There are a number of cooling sprays available that can help to soothe sunburned skin. These sprays contain ingredients like aloe vera and menthol, which can help to cool and reduce inflammation. 

Be sure to follow the directions on the package and avoid spraying the affected area directly, as this can actually cause more pain. You can also make your own cooling spray by brewing green tea and chilling it, then putting it in a spray bottle.

12. Witch hazel for sunburn

Witch hazel has natural anti-inflammatory properties, so applying witch hazel to a minor sunburn can help it feel better. To apply, simply pour a small amount of witch hazel to a washcloth or cotton ball and dab on the sunburned area.

Make sure to get alcohol-free witch hazel if you intend to treat your sunburns with it!

13. Essential oils for sunburn

Several essential oils can help heal up minor sunburns too. While no medical studies proclaim their effectiveness, so many people swear by essential oils. Here are the best anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich essential oils for sunburns:

When using essential oils for sunburns, make sure to dilute them. Try a small amount at first because they can cause skin irritation which is the last thing someone with a sunburn needs. You can use aloe gel as a carrier and simply mix 1 to 3 drops in a small amount of gel adding water if desired.

14. Apple cider vinegar for sunburn

I always hated it when my mom made me put vinegar on my sunburns when I was a kid, but it is an effective natural sunburn relief method! Vinegar is a natural astringent, and I can tell you from experience that it does cool, soothe, and the acetic acid in the vinegar helps with itching too.

To use apple cider vinegar for sunburn relief, either soak some in a washcloth and apply to your burns, or add a cup to a cool bath and soak for 20+ minutes.

natural sunburn relief
These are just a few of the many sunburn remedies that are available. If you find that your sunburn is not responding to home remedies, be sure to see a doctor. Always remember to use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to help prevent sunburns in the first place.

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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