Coping With a Sunburn


Is Something Cooking?

That would be your skin! In less than 15 minutes, your body reacts, burns and bakes due to exposure to ultraviolet rays. Depending on the person and the skin type, a sunburn can vary from mild to severe with a variety of symptoms. From just a small red patch on your skin to debilitation symptoms, sunburns are miserable.

For myself and my fair complexion, I get sunburns very easily. My mother always warned me—and still does to this day—that if I go outside I better take extra precaution to apply and reapply sunscreen. Of course I listen, but sometimes you forget how many hours have passed since the last time you used it, or you jumped into the lake without wearing waterproof sunblock. Sorry mama, sunburns just happen. But it is what you do after your time in the sun that is important. Luckily for you, I, the master of many sunburns, have a few ways to help you cope with the symptoms as you heal.


From the Frying Pan, Into the Oven

The first step in treating a sunburn is knowing what it is. Ultraviolet rays from the sun damage the skin’s molecules and your DNA, causing blood vessels in the skin to dilate. When this happens, your body reacts through inflammation, redness, swelling and blistering. Unfortunately, once sunburned the damage is done. There is no reverse for it, but there are ways to treat the uncomfortable symptoms.



Aloha Aloe

Whether it’s from the Aloe Vera plant itself or Solarcaine spray from the local convenient store, aloe is your greatest ally. It works quickly to soothe and calm your skin’s irritation, helping your body relax. If you want to use Aloe straight from the source—the plant—apply it first to a small area just to make sure you aren’t allergic before you spread it all over your body. Aloe also comes in forms of lotion and body wash. Both forms are soothing but require you to rub your irritated and sore skin. My solution and one that I use all the time is solarcaine spray. Although cold initially, the spray is more soothing than having to apply cream to your burn, and it’s easier to put on by yourself.


Noxzema Cream

I just recently discovered this little tiny blue jar the other day when I was shopping for a new lotion. This cream contains camphor, menthol and eucalyptus—all great for sunburn relief. I tried it after my most recent sunburn and realized it works wonders. The menthol soothes and the camphor relieves the pain while the eucalyptus puts moisture back into the skin. It is also gentle enough to apply to sensitive areas like your face.


Oatmeal Baths

Oatmeal baths are great, whether you have a sunburn or not! These baths help bring nourishment back into the skin, treating and curing it of any skin-related issues. Making an oatmeal bath is as easy as making it for breakfast. I keep mine simple, by just adding lukewarm water and a packet of Aveeno oatmeal bath, but there are several ways to make it. Like this one for example:

You’ll need:

  • 1-2 cups fine grain oatmeal
  • 4 cups whole milk

What to do:

  1. Pour a lukewarm bath
  2. Add in oatmeal and milk
  3. Stir
  4. Relax and soak in it for 15 to 20 minutes



Your skin is hot, and it needs moisture. Comfort yourself by placing a cool—emphasis on cool not cold—compress on your sunburnt area. The last sunburn I had, my legs seemed to have the most pain. Just to stand up, I had to place a cool towel around each leg. It worked to relieve the pain and to help bring some of the heat out of the burn. A cool compress also helps reduce the swelling, which is another cause of all your pain.


Olive Oil

Ancient Greece may lay in ruins, but it wasn’t because of sunburns. It is believed that the use of olive oil as a treatment for sunburns dates all the way to the ancient Greeks and their belief in its healing elements. Olive oil works by soothing and relieving the pain from first-degree burns, like sunburns. The oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, can speed up the healing process and inhibit the effects of bacteria on your sensitive skin. Gently place olive oil on the sunburned area—a little goes a long way. Don’t rub it in, let your skin absorb it. It works best when you leave your skin uncovered.


Apple Cider Vinegar

I saved the best for last! The quickest and most effective way to ease your sunburn and draw the heat out of your skin is to use apple cider vinegar (ACV). I know, sounds eccentric, but it works. However, ACV is highly acidic in itself, so caution is necessary. Before using ACV, always dilute it. You can do so by mixing each cup of vinegar with one cup of water. To apply the mixture on your sunburn, you can either use a spray bottle to mist it onto your skin or dab it on with a cool towel. (Personally, I prefer the spray method.) Let the mixture sit on your skin until it dries, before following up with aloe vera, or better yet, coconut lotion. Within a minute or two it will start working to relieve you of tight and heated skin.

I might not be there to remind you to always apply and reapply your sunscreen, but at least I can provide you with some tips to help ease the suffering. Remember the sunscreen and enjoy your summer without the burn.

Did you love learning about how to cope with a sunburn? If so, let us know in the comment section below or share your own blog with us.

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