Natural Sunburn Cures

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthAs the days of summer start to wane, you can’t help but notice one thing: you got burned. Despite your best efforts to protect your skin, you’re stuck with this painful, itching, and swelling sunburn. There’s no need to get even redder with embarrassment over your new, sizzling color. There are actually many different solutions to this common problem. has assembled a list of simple, at-home fixes that one can use to soothe even the most sun-scorched skin.
Use compresses

  • Cold water. Use either plain water from the faucet or add a few ice cubes. Repeat every few minutes as the cloth warms. Apply several times a day for a total of 10 to 15 minutes each.
  • Aluminum acetate. If itching is intense, try mixing Domeboro’s powder packets (available in drugstores) with water. The aluminum acetate in the powder keeps skin from getting too dry or itchy. Follow package directions.
  • SMART TIP: You can also direct a fan on the area to heighten cooling.

Check the kitchen

  • Oatmeal. Wrap dry oatmeal in cheesecloth or gauze. Run cool water through it. Discard the oatmeal and soak compresses in the liquid. Apply every 2 to 4 hours.
  • Fat-free milk. Mix 1 cup fat-free milk with 4 cups water, then add a few ice cubes. Apply compresses for 15 to 20 minutes; repeat every 2 to 4 hours.
  • Cornstarch. Add enough water to cornstarch to make a paste. Apply directly to the sunburn.
  • Lettuce. Boil lettuce leaves in water. Strain, then let the liquid cool several hours in the refrigerator. Dip cotton balls into the liquid and gently press or wipe onto irritated skin.
  • Yogurt. Apply yogurt to all sunburned areas. Rinse off in a cool shower, then gently pat skin dry.
  • Tea bags. If your eyelids are burned, apply tea bags soaked in cool water to decrease swelling and help relieve pain. Tea has tannic acid, which seems to ease sunburn pain.

Avoid soap

  • Do not soak in soapy water. Likewise, stay away from bubble baths. If you must use soap, use only a mild brand and rinse it off very well.
  • What you can do is take a cool bath, as an alternative to compresses. Add more water as needed to keep the temperature cool. Afterward, gently pat your skin dry with a clean towel. Do not rub your skin, or you’ll irritate it further.
  • Baking soda. Generously sprinkle baking soda into tepid bathwater. Instead of toweling off, let the solution dry on your skin. It is completely nontoxic, and it will soothe the pain.

Beware of blisters

  • If blisters develop, you have a pretty bad burn. If they bother you and they cover only a small area, you may carefully drain them. But do not peel the top skin off—you’ll have less discomfort and danger of infection if air does not come in contact with sensitive nerve endings.
  • To drain the fluid, first sterilize a needle by holding it over a flame. Then puncture the edge of the blister and press gently on the top to let the fluid come out. Do this three times in the first 24 hours. Then leave the blisters alone.

Question your medications

  • Antibiotics, tranquilizers, and antifungal medications can cause reactions. So can oral contraceptives, diuretics, drugs for diabetes, and even PABA-containing sunscreens. Always ask your doctor about potential side effects of any drugs you may be taking.

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