Summer is, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable seasons in countries which experience extreme seasons. What with the perfectly blue skies, delightful weather and outdoor activities? For the most part, this season is as exciting as it is eventful. It however, can be a source of great discomfort thanks to the overexposure of one’s skin to the sun’s UV rays.

Too much time in the sunny outdoors takes a toll on most summer lovers, resulting in the formation of red and painful sections of the skin. These affected parts of the skin constitute what is commonly referred to as a sunburn. Sunburns do not occur immediately you are exposed to the sun, but start to set in six hours or so after exposure.

lady laying on the beach

When the skin is continuously exposed to the sun, this triggers increased production of melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives the skin its color, and is found in the skin’s top layer. Increasing melanin production is the skin’s defense mechanism against damage of the skin’s deeper layers. While this amount is determined genetically, many people will attest to the unsightly shaded parts of the sunburned skin. The most effective way to deal with sunburns is to prevent their formation in the first place. This is why sunscreen is an integral summer must-have product. Sunscreen creates a protective layer on the skin that in turn prevents the sun’s UV rays from reaching the skin layers.

Since this does not always happen, listed below are some of the top remedies for sunburns. If left untreated, the sunburns cause the skin to peel, leading to the formation of sore blisters. This also poses a risk since the sun’s UV rays increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer. Always take preventive and curative measures to keep sunburns at bay. If need be, seek the services of a dermatologist.

1. Oatmeal:

Time Required: 30 Min – 2 Hrs
What You Need: 1-2 Cups of oatmeal and cool water in the bathtub. The other alternative is to cook oatmeal, for which you will need water and/or milk.
Difficulty: Easy


Oatmeal is one of the most popular home remedies for the treatment of sunburn, thanks to its soothing properties. In addition to this, when used either as a bath soak or as a pack, the oatmeal prevents the loss of moisture from the skin. The result is reduced irritation and stinging as well as hydrated skin. There are two ways to use oatmeal as indicated above. You may choose to soak in cool bath water to which the oatmeal has been added, or you may opt to cook and apply as a compress on the effected skin.


Method 1:

  1. Let cool water run and fill the bath tub.
  2. Add the oatmeal to the water and mix well.
  3. Slip into the tub and soak in this water for 30 minutes – 1 hour depending on the extent of the sunburn.
  4. You will then allow your skin to dry on its own. Avoid using a towel as this can easily worsen the irritation and slow the recovery period.
  5. Use this remedy at least once daily until you have the sunburn under control, and notice progressive healing.

Method 2:

  1. Cook the oatmeal by following the directions provided on the packaging. For this remedy however, try as much as you can to ensure it retains some viscosity so that you have a runny remedy. Additionally, you may use water or milk depending on your personal preferences.
  2. Allow the cooked oatmeal to cool down. Do not use while it is hot for obvious reasons as this will only add to the stinging and irritation.
  3. Apply a generous amount of the cooked oatmeal to the affected part of the skin.
  4. Leave the oatmeal on the sunburned skin for anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours for maximum relief.
  5. Once this period elapses, simply rinse the oatmeal off using cool water.
  6. Use this remedy thrice daily or as often as required.


2. Aloe Vera:

Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Fresh aloe vera leaf, sharp knife, sterile cotton wool, ice cubes/refrigerator, and cool water.
Difficulty: Easy


Aloe vera is an effective home remedy for the treatment of sunburns, thanks to the presence of its potent anti-inflammatory traits. When the gel of a freshly-plucked leaf is applied on the skin, it soothes the affected area and reduces the inflammation associated with the same. The inclusion of ice cubes/the option of refrigerating the fresh gel compliments the remedy’s benefits on the skin, allowing for speedy recovery from the sunburns. In the absence of fresh aloe vera gel, you may use commercial gel in the same way.


  1. Clean the leaf well before making a sharp cut at an angle. This is key because it increases the surface area for the production of the gel.
  2. Collect the gel in a bowl and place a pack of ice cubes on it/refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. After half an hour, take some of the gel using the cotton wool and apply it on the affected skin.
  4. Apply a consistent layer and allow to air-dry. The purpose of this is to allow the skin to absorb the gel’s medicinal properties.
  5. Once dried, rinse the skin using cool water. Repeat this remedy as many times as you would love to during the day to allow you quick relief from the symptoms associated with sunburns.


3. Cool Compress:

Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 5 Ice cubes and a clean washcloth.
Difficulty: Easy


The purpose of the col compress is to reduce the pain and inflammation of the sunburned skin by numbing it. The remedy works because it causes the narrowing of the blood vessels, thus decreasing the rate of inflammation. For this, you will need about 5 ice cubes wrapped in a clean towel. The key thing to remember is that you should never use ice directly on the skin as this causes frost bites which will only worsen the condition.


  1. Wrap the ice cubes in the clean washcloth to create an easy-to-use compress.
  2. Use the compress to gently massage the sunburned area.
  3. Do this for as long as the washcloth is cool and the ice cubes have not melted.
  4. Repeat the remedy as often as required for quick recovery.


4. Raw Potatoes:

Time Required: 1 Hr
What You Need: 2 Medium sized potatoes, a knife, a grater/blender, cotton balls, and some gauze.
Difficulty: Easy


Paste obtained from raw potatoes is one of the simplest and most economical ways to treat sunburns. Potatoes are packed with anti-inflammatory compounds which help reduce the stinging symptom that is typical of sunburns. The potato paste also has a soothing effect on the skin. There are two ways in which you can use the raw potatoes: the first is by using the potato wedges to massage the sunburned skin and the second involves creating a paste which is applied topically. Below are the directions for the same.


Using the paste:

  1. Wash the potatoes well, making sure you get rid of all the dirt on the surface.
  2. Chop the potatoes into small pieces to ease the blending process.
  3. Transfer the chopped potatoes to the blender and blend until you have a thick consistent paste. You may need to add some water to ensure a seamless blending process.
  4. Soak the cotton balls (depending on the extent of the sunburn) in the potatoes paste and use to apply on the sunburn.
  5. Alternatively, soak the gauze and then transfer it to the burned area.
  6. Allow the paste to air dry and then rinse with cold water. Use this remedy as often as you need to.

Using the potato wedges:

  1. Wash the potatoes well, making sure you get rid of all the dirt on the surface.
  2. Chop the potatoes to get sizable wedges which you will use to massage the sunburned skin.
  3. Place the wedges on the sunburns, making sure that the skin comes into direct contact with the chopped potato.
  4. Let the wedge remain on the skin for 30 minutes, or until the cooling sensation wears off. At this point, you may replace the wedges with the unused ones.


5. Cold Milk Compress:

Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 1 Cup of cold milk and a clean washcloth.
Difficulty: Easy


Use a cold milk compress for effective home treatment of sunburned skin. This low-cost remedy works excellently as it soothes the skin. The cooling sensation helps manage the pain at the site of the sunburn. Milk is also packed with proteins that help nourish the skin as well as protect it. Overall, the use of cold milk compress not only eases the discomfort, it also speeds up the healing process.


  1. Place the clean washcloth in a bowl and pour the milk over it so that it is completely covered.
  2. When the washcloth is completely soaked, take it out and squeeze the excess milk.
  3. Spread the washcloth and use it to cover the sunburned skin.
  4. Leave the washcloth on for as long as it remains cool.
  5. Once the washcloth becomes warm, soak it once more before repeating steps 3 & 4 above. Use cold milk compress as often as you need to.


6. Cornstarch:

Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Cornstarch and cool water. Baking soda is a great option in the absence of the cornstarch.
Difficulty: Easy


Cornstarch is an ideal remedy for the treatment of sunburns, thanks to its smooth texture. When mixed with water to create a paste, the resulting texture has a soothing sensation on the sunburn, effectively getting rid of the discomfort and allowing you quick relief. The cornstarch also has the advantage of eliminating the stark red appearance of the affected skin. If, for whatever reason you cannot get access to cornstarch, baking soda is an excellent option. The soda’s alkaline nature helps alleviate the itchiness and offers quick relief. As expected, the amount of baking soda or cornstarch you use is directly proportional to the sunburned area. For the purposes of this remedy, however, 1 cup will be used for guiding purposes.


Using cornstarch:

  1. Place the cornstarch in a bowl and slowly add the cool water. Do not use cold water as this will not allow the remedy to form a paste with the desired consistency.
  2. Stir the paste until you have a consistent texture which is easy to apply on the skin.
  3. Scoop some of the paste and apply a generous amount on the sunburned skin.
  4. Leave the paste on the skin for half an hour before rinsing off with cold water. Use this remedy as often as is required.
  5. When using baking soda, follow steps 1-4 in the same way, only replace cornstarch with baking soda.


7. Black Tea Bag:

Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 2 Black teabags and a clean washcloth.
Difficulty: Easy


The contents of the black tea bag are the go-to solution when you need relief from the discomfort of sunburns. This is because the teabag is packed with antioxidants that are a great inclusion when eliminating the effects of sunburns. Black tea also has tannins which play a key role in shielding the skin from the harmful effects of UV light. Lastly, when used to treat sunburns, the tea helps maintain the skin’s optimal pH levels for better function and protection.


  1. Place the black tea bags in a pot containing hot water and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Let the tea cool for 10 minutes before soaking the washcloth in it.
  3. Carefully dub the wet washcloth on the affected skin.
  4. Allow the tea to dry on its own, preferably without rinsing it off.
  5. Do this daily until the sunburned skin is completely healed.


Other remedies that you can use to treat sunburns include coconut oil which nourishes the skin, honey which soothes and repairs the affected skin as well as staying hydrated. In addition to these remedies, there are preventive measures that you can use to reduce the likelihood of getting sunburns. These include:

  • Taking up proper skin care routines such as moisturizing and the regular use of sunscreen lotion whenever spending time in the outdoors.
  • Avoid staying out under the direct sun whenever you can, especially between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s heat is most intense.
  • Get adequate rest to allow your skin to rejuvenate and get rid of the damaged cells.
  • Lastly, in the event that blisters develop on the sunburned area, do not peel it off. Instead, use a sterilized needle to puncture the blisters and drain the fluid. If this does not improve, ensure that you seek medical advice from a dermatologist.

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