Soothing Sunburn: How to Relieve Pain

by Jenny Robinson

Arguably the worst part about baking in the summer sun is the painful sunburn that can ensue if you forget to reapply your sunscreen.  While the best way to deal with sunburn is to avoid it altogether by applying sunscreen regularly and taking breaks when UV radiation levels are high, sunburn inevitably happens at least once every summer. When your skin does get itchy, warm and inflamed, try these remedies to soothe your skin and minimize peeling and pain.

Cool Compress 

Mom’s advice from childhood still rings true. When you come home with sunburn, cold, wet towels and ice packs are great ways to ease the pain and reduce inflammation. Because sunburn is caused by UV rays from the sun killing skin cells that lack enough protective melanin, the dead skin cells cause an influx of blood to the affected area that uncomfortably warms the skin. Cold wet towels or ice can turn down the heat.

CBD

CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory that can help soothe inflamed, swollen, sunburned skin. It is loaded with antioxidants, which are soothing and calming. Try a CBD balm or oil and apply directly to sunburned skin. 

Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated is always important, especially when you’ve recently gotten sunburn. It’s the best way to prevent peeling and excess heat. You can also eat foods with a high water content, like watermelon or cucumber.

Black and Green Teas

The antioxidants and tannic acid in these teas can be used to soothe pain and heal the burned skin. By steeping a tea bag and resting it on the burned areas, the swelling, redness and pain quotient can go down.

Tea Tree Oil

Given its antiseptic properties, ability to soothe swelling and tendency to calm irritation, tea tree oil can help with the pain and redness of sunburn. Make sure that the oil is diluted enough in a carrier oil to be skin-safe, and that you don’t have any adverse reactions to it prior to using it for your sunburn.

Milk

Yes, bathing in chilled milk does sound a little strange as a sunburn cure. But it contains lactic acid and antioxidants that gently exfoliate the painful dead cells and heal the rest while the coolness of the milk itself calms and tamps down the swelling. 

Coconut Oil
If your sunburn has already blistered and peeled, coconut oil may be able to help the appearance and pain. When applied towards the end of the process, it limits more peeling and dryness, and moisturizes dry, dehydrated skin. 

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a sunburn go-to for good reason. With its cooling factor and the fact that it stimulates healing, aloe should remain in everyone’s sunburn treatment arsenal. Using the gel directly from the plant is best, but store-bought gels are also effective, so long as it is pure aloe vera, with no irritating additives or colors.

Make sure to slather on sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 when you’re in town and SPF 30 on the beach or outdoors to protect against sunburn, but if you do find yourself scorched by the sun, hopefully these remedies will help keep the experience brief.

If sunburn gets really painful or blisters badly, contact a doctor. Most important, stay safe this summer while having your fun in the sun.

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