Natural Sunburn Solutions

July 15, 2014

We long for the hot summer days, but when they finally arrive, do we treat the sun with the respect it deserves?  More often than not, our first days basking in the sun result in sunburn.

Symptoms of sunburn are usually temporary. But  the skin damage is often permanent and can have serious long-term effects, including skin cancer. By the time the skin starts to become painful and red, the damage has been done. 

Possible symptoms of sunburn may include:

  • Red, tender skin that is warm to the touch
  • Pain is worst between 6 and 48 hours after sun exposure
  • Blisters that develop hours to days later
  • Severe reactions (sometimes called sun poisoning), including fever, chills, nausea, or rash
  • Skin peeling on sunburned areas several days after the sunburn

Natural Treatment for Minor Sunburn:

  • Apply the gel of an older aloe leaf. Split the leaf open lengthwise for the quantity needed.
  • Make an ointment or salve with the essential oil of Saint John's Wort to promote the healing of burns that haven't broken the skin. It is not only anti-inflammatory but also antiviral and antibacterial.
  • Apply compresses of ice or cold water.
  • Dissolve Epson salts in water, apply to a clean cloth, and place the cloth over the affected skin.
  • Take a cool bath, adding lavender, bergamot oil, baking soda or oatmeal to the bath water.
  • Add some black or green tea to your bathwater to soothe sunburned skin. Or pat sunburned skin with wet tea bags.
  • Mix 1 cup water and 20 to 25 drops lavender oil and use to bathe the sunburned area. Or, apply the solution with a spray bottle.
  • Apply a poultice of chamomile tea. Do not use this treatment if you are allergic to pollen.
  • Wear loose clothing  so it doesn’t stick to your skin.Natural fibers, such as cotton or bamboo, make for the best post-sunburn coverings. 
  • Drink lots of water-after your skin has been damaged from the sun’s rays, it needs moisture that it lost during your time out in the sun.


  • There is no such thing as a "healthy tan." Unprotected sun exposure causes early aging of the skin.
  • Sun exposure can cause first and second degree burns.
  • Skin cancer usually appears in adulthood. But it is caused by sun exposure and sunburns that began as early as childhood. You can help prevent skin cancer by protecting your skin and your family's skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

Prevention is the best medicine --see the chart below for tips on preventing overexposure.

UV Index Number            Exposure Level            Time to Burn            Actions to Take
        0, 1, 2                                 Minimal                         60 minutes               SPF 15 sunscreen
        3, 4                                     Low                              45 minutes               SPF 15 sunscreen; wear a hat
        5, 6                                     Moderate                      30 minutes               SPF 15 sunscreen; wear a hat
        7, 8, 9                                 High                              15-25 minutes          SPF 30 sunscreen; wear a hat and sunglasses
        10 or higher                        Very high                       10 minutes               SPF 30 sunscreen; wear a hat, sunglasses                                                                                                                  and protective clothing