We all know better than to get a sunburn, but invariably every year there is at least one time I get caught unawares and end up with a horrible sunburn. This year it happened to my daughter. I thought I was being so diligent, knowing that it often gets me right at the brink of summer before I’m in the habit of lubing the kids up every time they go outside.
We had a few days with temps in the 80s and 90s, and the kids were outside constantly.
The first day they went out, I was on top of it. After they were out for about an hour, I realized that this was prime burning weather so I grabbed some sunscreen left over from last year and slathered it all over them. I was so proud of myself for remembering.
The next day they were only outside in the late afternoon so I didn’t bother, but the 3rd day . . . that’s when it happened.
They went out early and after a few hours (yes, HOURS, I know) I realized they were wearing bathing suits and totally unprotected. I got some sunscreen on them, but it was too little too late. They were already shaping up to resemble little lobsters.
Then on top of that, the following day I put an SPF 15 on my one daughter and sent her to the swimming pool with a friend. I guess the SPF 15 wasn’t enough for her pale skin or it should have been reapplied, but she burned on top of her burn.
That’s when I decided I was a complete and utter failure as a mother. Please tell me you’ve been there too. Not only did I have my child diagnosed with skin cancer by the time she’s 18, but my poor baby was crying because her sunburn was hurting her.
Mother. Of. The. Year.
So I did what all mommies do, I went straight to Google and typed in “sunburn home remedies.”
Here are some tips that I discovered:
We didn’t try this one because it would have taken to long to steep the tea and let it get cold, but you can put tea bags in a bowl under boiling water, let them sit for an hour and then refrigerate them to get them cold. Soak a rag in the cold tea and apply to the sunburned area. If you already have tea made up, this could be worth a try.
Cold Milk Compresses
You can use milk to alleviate the pain of sunburn. Go figure! Dilute milk 4:1 with water and add some ice cubes to keep it chilled. Then soak a clean washcloth in the milk and apply it to the sunburned area. You can let it sit on there as long as you want. Repeat as needed.
Apple Cider Vinegar & Coconut Oil
I often joke that there’s nothing apple cider vinegar or coconut oil can’t cure. You can do a compress with ACV as with the milk (diluted or not), or just get in a lukewarm bath and pour in a cup or two of the ACV and soak the pain away. Afterwards, moisturize with coconut oil to combat the dryness of the vinegar. One article I read actually said the coconut oil, itself, helps with the pain of sunburn. I figure you might as well double up, but you could try coconut oil first and if it works, then forego the ACV step altogether. I just applied coconut oil, and it really helped my daughter. Plus, she never peeled. Score!
Chances are, you’ve heard of this one. Aloe is very moisturizing in addition to being healing and reducing pain of sunburn. Ideally you would keep an aloe plant around and scoop the gel directly from the split leaves. If you don’t have that option, avoid aloe based creams and instead go for a good quality gel at a health food store. I didn’t try this, as I don’t keep aloe around, but it might be a good idea to get some to have on hand.
Remember, avoiding sunburn altogether is best practice. Wear a hat, avoid sun exposure for too long, or wear a good quality sunscreen if you’ll be in the sun for more than an hour. But if you get caught unawares and get a little more sun than you intended, try one of these home remedies. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Disclaimer: These treatments work on mild to moderate sunburn. If you find yourself with a severe burn that blisters, you may need to see a doctor.