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8 Sunburn Remedies From Your Kitchen and Garden

Sunburn remedies from your kitchen and garden

According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50.1% of adults have had at least one sunburn within the last 12 months. To avoid sunburn, you know the drill--wear sunscreen, cover up, and stay in the shade--but if you do get too much sun, you might turn to your kitchen and garden for some old-fashioned sunburn remedies.

Sunburn prevalence is high

The new CDC study shows that even though people are taking more steps to protect themselves from sunburn, half of all adults and 65.6% of whites aged 18 to 29 had at least one case of sunburn within the past year. Most cases of sunburn are first-degree burns, which means the skin gets red and is painful.

The redness begins about 2 to 6 hours after sun exposure, and the worst effects occur at 12 to 24 hours. However, the most serious effect is the potential for skin cancer, as the risk for melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) increases with the increasing number of sunburn episodes a person experiences during life.

Sunburn remedies from the kitchen and garden
If sunburn does occur, the following home remedies can be found in your kitchen or garden. Most of the claims of relief are anecdotal, as there are few scientific studies to support their use. However, these remedies are considered to be tried-and-true.

  • Aloe vera is one remedy that has been the topic of some research. In a journal article entitled "Aloe vera in dermatology: a brief review," the authors noted that while aloe vera was not helpful in protecting against sunburn, "it can be effective for...burn, wound healing and inflammation." An aloe vera plant is handy to keep in your kitchen or garden year round. Snip off a leaf tip and squeeze the juice onto your skin. You can also slice through a leaf, spoon out the gel, and mix it with some vitamin E oil. Apply aloe vera every few hours as needed.
  • Apple cider vinegar added to a warm bath can help relieve sunburn pain. Add 1 to 2 cups to bath water and soak for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Baking soda is an easy and effective treatment. In a small bowl, mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda with about 1/2 cup water and mix well. Apply the mixture to your skin with cotton balls or a soft cloth. If you have a large sunburned area, soak a soft cloth in the mixture, squeeze it out, and lay it on the affected area. Another option is to pour about 2 cups of baking soda into bath water and soak in it.
  • Black tea and green tea contain tannic acid, which can help draw the heat from sunburn. Steep 2 to 3 tea bags in 2 cups of hot water, allow the tea to cool, and then soak a cloth or cotton balls in the tea and apply to sunburned skin. You can also add 4 to 5 tea bags to warm bath water and soak in the bath. Cooled tea bags can also be used as a compress on sunburned areas.
  • Comfrey is an herb that contains allantoin, which may help with skin cell regeneration. If you have comfrey in your garden, you can squeeze the juice from the stems of the leaves and apply to sunburned skin. An alternative is to brew a comfrey tea using the leaves, allow the tea to cool, and then soak soft cloths in the tea and place them on sunburned areas.
  • Mint leaves from your garden can be made into a refreshing tea for a bath. Crush 2 cups of fresh mint leaves and allow them to steep in 4 cups of hot water. Strain off the leaves and add the cooled tea to a bath (can be added to a black tea or comfrey tea bath as well) or use the cooled mint tea to dab on your sunburned skin with a cotton ball.
  • Oatmeal baths can relieve the itch that occurs as sunburn heals. Pour 1 cup of colloidal (very fine powdered oatmeal), hydrolyzed oatmeal, or take regular uncooked oatmeal and grind it yourself. Add to your bath water as the tub is filling. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Gently pat the sunburned skin dry so you leave a thin layer of oatmeal on your skin. Warning: Put a piece of cheesecloth or another type of fine cloth over the drain to prevent your drain from getting clogged.
  • Vegetable oil mixed with an equal amount of white vinegar can be dabbed on sunburned skin. This combination can help take away the heat while softening the skin.

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Sunburn Pain Secret Unlocked by Scientists

If you experience severe sunburn and blistering that covers a large area or that is very painful and/or also have nausea, headache, tingling, dizziness, confusion, dehydration, fever, and chills, then you likely have sun poisoning. Drink plenty of water and seek immediate medical attention.

Otherwise, most sunburn can be treated using remedies from your kitchen and garden. And remember to wear your sunscreen next time!

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sunburn and sun protective behaviors among adults aged 18-29 years--United States, 2000-2010. MMWR Morb Motral Wkly Rep 2012 May 11; 61:317-22
Feily A, Namazi MR. Aloe vera in dermatology: a brief review. G Ital Dermatol Venereal 2009 Feb; 144(1): 85-91

Image: Wikimedia Commons