11 Home Remedies for Sunburn to Feel Better Fast

These natural remedies for sunburn will help your skin to heal while soothing pain and inflammation.

Adapted by Taylor Shea from Kitchen Cabinet Cures (Reader's Digest Association Books)

Soak in oats

This breakfast staple also has skin-soothing properties and reduces inflammation. Stuff an old nylon stocking with oats and place under the faucet as you run some cool bathwater. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes and air-dry yourself so you don’t wipe off the healing oats with your towel.


Add baking soda to bathwater

Bicarbonate of soda helps soothe skin inflammation, reduces itching, and helps skin heal. Toss a handful into cool bathwater and soak for 20 minutes. Or draw a sunburn soothing bath by combining 2-4 cups of finely ground oats, 1 cup of baking soda, and 1 cup of evaporated milk. All three ingredients fight inflammation and aid in healing. 


Try white vinegar

Ordinary white vinegar contains acetic acid, a component of aspirin that can help relieve the pain, itching, and inflammation of sunburn. Soak paper towels with vinegar and apply like a compress to painful areas, leave them on until they dry. Be careful around the eyes because vinegar can sting. Alternatively, pour a cup of white vinegar into tepid bathwater and soak for 20 minutes. 


Soothe with green tea

Studies suggest that the antioxidant compounds of green tea help prevent sunburn and skin cancer when you apply it to skin or sip it regularly. It doesn’t act as a sunblock, but it does protect skin against inflammation caused by the sun’s UV rays. You need about 3 milligrams of the green tea compound EGCG per square inch of skin. One cup of brewed green tea contains 20-35 milligrams of EGCG so after you sip a cup, brew a second cup, let it cool, and dab it on skin with a cotton ball after coming in out of the sun. Try mixing the green tea with mint tea for extra soothing cool comfort.


Mist with lavender oil

A French chemist discovered the healing powers of lavender oil in the early 1900s; when he severely burned his hand in a lab accident and plunged it into a vat of lavender essential oil, the oil eased the pain and his burn healed quickly. Mix 1 teaspoon of pure lavender essential oil into about 2 ounces of water in a misting bottle. Shake and mist sunburned skin lightly as often as needed. Or try mixing 1 teaspoon of lavender essential oil with 4 tablespoons of aloe gel, 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and 2 capsules of vitamin E, 400 IU for a soothing gel that reduces inflammation and wards of infection.


Coat with plain yogurt

The enzymes and probiotics in plain, unflavored yogurt help to heal sunburned skin. Apply yogurt directly to burned areas and let sit for at least five minutes. When the pain subsides, gently wash off with cool water.


Heal with evaporated milk

You don’t want to pull milk out of the fridge—too cold! But canned evaporated milk is just cool enough to ease the pain of your burn. Pour some on a clean cloth and apply to areas that hurt. It will provide a protein layer that locks in moisture, allowing skin to heal. 


Dab on witch hazel

Witch hazel is excellent for healing damaged skin. Use a cotton ball to dab it directly on your sunburn. It speeds healing, reduces inflammation, and helps keep bacteria from forming.


Drink plenty of water

Sunburned skin means dehydrated skin. Drinking plenty of water will replenish skin and help to heal your burn quickly.


Smooth on aloe vera

Pure aloe vera is the superhero of sunburn relief. A 2009 study found that aloe vera healed second-degree burns three days faster than those receiving traditional burn treatment with silver sulfadiazine. Aloe contains glycoproteins that speed healing by stopping pain and inflammation; and it contains compounds that moisturize skin, stimulate its growth and repair, and enhance wound healing. Minerals in the gel also soothe itching. 


Heal with vitamins E and C

Vitamins won't take the sting out of a painful sunburn, but they will help to heal it faster. Taking 2000 milligrams of vitamin C and 1,000 IU of vitamin E for 8 days could help your sunburn heal and potentially reduce your chances for developing skin cancer in the future, say experts. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants. They neutralize the free radicals that are created by sun damage, protecting you from lasting skin damage, and they will also help to heal and repair your skin faster. 

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