10 Natural Remedies for Sunburn

While there are multiple natural remedies for sunburn, not all are recommended for use. In today's article, we'll talk about 10 of them.
10 Natural Remedies for Sunburn
Maria del Carmen Hernandez

Reviewed and approved by the dermatologist Maria del Carmen Hernandez.

Last update: 22 December, 2021

While there are numerous natural remedies for sunburn, not all are appropriate for this purpose. In the same way, it’s always better to prevent sun damage than have to treat its complications. Find out more in this article.

What is a sunburn?

Sunburn is damage to the skin caused by prolonged and excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays. In general, these radiations come from the sun but can also be emitted from artificial sources, such as tanning beds.

The main risk factors for sunburn are intensity and time of exposure. But according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are other predisposing factors for developing these skin lesions:

  • Taking certain medications: Tetracyclines, sulfonamides, NSAIDs, retinoids, and thiazide diuretics increase the risk of sunburn with minor exposures.
  • Increased UV index: The sun’s rays strike with greater power between 10 am and 4 pm, in high altitude areas, and near the equator.
  • Depletion of the ozone layer: the presence of holes in the ozone layer prevents the blocking of the entry of UV rays. For this reason, sun exposure in certain regions of the world (such as South America) is riskier.
  • Fitzpatrick skin type: the lighter the skin, the more delicate and vulnerable it is to the attacks of the sun.
  • The habit of tanning: this habit increases the chances of developing skin cancer, due to the accelerated aging of this tissue.

Natural remedies for sunburn

Sometimes it’s very difficult to avoid sunburn, as in the summer. For this reason, it’s very common for families to resort to different home treatments in order to alleviate skin discomfort in children.

Although there are several options to implement at home, some of them aren’t entirely advisable.

Next, we’ll tell you what the current recommendations of the American Academy of Dermatology Association are in this regard.

1. Ice

Ice helps soothe pain and reduce inflammation from burns. However, you shouldn’t apply it directly to the skin but rather wrapped in a thin compress. Ice contact with damaged skin can increase the burn or damage to the skin.

2. Aloe vera

A bottle of fresh aloe gel from an aloe vera stalk.

The natural gel obtained from this plant has been used for centuries to soothe discomforts or skin conditions, due to its great decongestant properties.

There are even commercial preparations that allow it to be stored in the refrigerator to offer greater relief when applying it.

3. Cold water compresses

One of the quickest and most accessible ways to treat inflammation from sunburn is to cool the affected area with water. This can be done through compresses or directly, by placing cold water on the injury.

4. Oats

Baths in oatmeal water are highly recommended practices for dermatitis or certain inflammatory skin conditions.

According to a study published in The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, oat extracts have direct antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

After bathing, you should avoid rubbing the skin with a towel, so just pat it dry so as not to worsen the irritation.

5. Milk

Milk compresses can soothe the discomfort and burning caused by sunburn. In turn, this food reduces the temperature of the skin and refreshes it.

The proteins contained in milk and lactic acid itself are believed to provide many benefits to damaged skin.

6. Plantain leaves

Plantain is one of the most recommended plants for this purpose, as it has anti-hemorrhagic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, it is often used to stimulate wound healing.

7. Calendula oil

Along with aloe vera, calendula oil is one of the most suitable plants to soothe certain skin conditions. Among its properties the following stand out:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antiviral
  • Antiseptic
  • Spasmodic
  • Antihemorrhagic
  • Healing

It can be applied in infusions, creams, oleates, ointments, or oils.

8. Green tea

Green tea and black tea are two of the most recommended infusions for treating sunburn. Also, the high tannin content they have gives these drinks anti-inflammatory properties.

In addition, their natural polyphenols reduce the swelling produced in the skin, soothe the burning, and reduce the discomfort that accompanies the burn.

9. Hydration

When there are sunburns on the skin’s surface, the skin becomes extremely dehydrated and needs to replace water losses through moisturizing.

Therefore, you should drink a sufficient amount of water during the day, every day of the year. This helps to maintain the body’s functions and to provide the skin with the necessary substrates to keep its protective mantle intact.

10. Chamomile Promotions

Chamomile tea infusions help soothe sunburned skin. You need to apply it cold and with a clean cloth soaked in this infusion.

In the event that the person has a history of pollen allergy, this type of treatment isn’t recommended as it could produce an allergic reaction on their skin.

Chamomile flowers and chamomile tea.

Natural remedies and sunburn

Needless to say, the main thing is always to prevent sun damage to the skin. However, when burns appear, you need to act quickly to avoid complications.

There are multiple options for natural remedies for sunburn, but not all of them are safe and effective. For this reason, if you have any concerns, you should seek medical advice.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Reynertson KA, Garay M, Nebus J, Chon S, Kaur S, Mahmood K, Kizoulis M, Southall MD. Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015 Jan;14(1):43-8. PMID: 25607907.
  • Saric S, Sivamani RK. Polifenoles y quemaduras solares. Int J Mol Sci . 2016; 17 (9): 1521. Publicado el 9 de septiembre de 2016 doi: 10.3390 / ijms17091521
  • Epstein JH. How I Manage Sunburn. Phys Sportsmed. 1985 Jul;13(7):81-5. doi: 10.1080/00913847.1985.11708834. PMID: 27410443.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.