Sunburns, like any other burns, are caused due to the damaging effects of excessive heat, in this case via the sun. Some home remedies for sunburn look promising though. They have becoming an increasingly common phenomenon for people living in the tropics and near the poles because of the reduced protective ozone layer. Thus, knowing how to prevent them and how to handle them are extremely essential. Read on for some simple home remedies for sunburn.


Things to keep in mind before stepping out in the sun:

Avoid stepping out between 10 am & 3 pm as this is when the sun is strongest.

Wear full sleeved clothing which is light colored, light weight and not too fitting. Preferably wear absorbent materials like cotton or linen. Use sunglasses and a hat to cover the eyes and head.

Apply a high SPF cream like 30 or 40 on all exposed areas at least 15-20 minutes before you step out as they need that much time to get absorbed and start acting. Repeat often as they tend to get ‘washed-off’ after a while.

– Try and drink plenty of fluids, around 2-3 litres every day to prevent dehydration due to heat and keep the skin fighting fit.

– If you form a blister do not burst it, it is protective.

– Do not dress the burn with pads, packs etc. Leave it open to air. Just wash the area with an anti-bacterial soap and keep it clean.

– Avoid using creams, lotions, jellies or oils on the affected area. They block off the pores of the skin and prevent it from the trapped heat leading to blistering in an otherwise uncomplicated burn.

– Consume more fruits, especially juicy fruits and lots of water in those hot days or before you are planning a day on the beach to keep up the body’s water content. Keep replenishing the lost water by sipping on coolers.

Plant remedies:

1. Use half a cup of oatmeal or baking soda in a bath-tub of water and soak in it for a maximum of 15-20 minutes. Do not try to dry with a towel, instead let yourself air dry.

2. Use aloe vera gel on the burn directly or mixed with water and apply as often as 5-6 times a day.

3. Use thin slices of the age old potato as a cooling agent. It takes away the heat while allowing ventilation to the burn.

4. Wash gently with cool water. This will take away the sting of the burn and reduce the redness. Do it as often as you can. Running water like a cold shower works better than water in a vessel. Avoid using loofah, scrub bars and scrubs on the burnt area. Avoid keeping in water too long either. A maximum of 15-20 minutes repeatedly is good enough. You may add lavender or sandalwood oil or rose water to the water to get an added cooling effect.

5. Blend in a cucumber and some cool yogurt and smear it generously over the burnt area. It will reduce the heat and pain in less than five minutes.

6. A thin paste of sandalwood on the affected area does wonders for your skin. It’s been used since thousands of years in the Indian tradition for its cooling properties.

7. Pour few drops of vinegar in a full bucket of cool water. Soak a small towel in this and apply it on the burnt area for 5 minutes. Repeat the procedure multiple times during the day.

8. Dip a tea bag in cold water and use this as a compress over the burnt area. Tea gives the part anti-oxidants which aid faster healing of the skin and water imparts coolness.

9. Apply a paste of equal proportions of turmeric, yogurt and barley on the burn. Wash it off after 30 minutes. You can repeat this as often as 5-6 times in a day till the redness subsides.

10. Keep cabbage or lettuce leaves soaked in cold water in a refrigerator and apply them over the reddened parts. This will help reduce the sunburns tremendously. Onion slices or juices applied over the sunburnt area are great options for sunburns. They reduce the inflammation and lessen the redness.

Remember the tips before you step out in the summer sun and have fun without worrying about a burn the next time. If the sun still beats you to it then you can use these simple, easily available home remedies for sunburn to get rid of the heat and sting. Do not ignore sunburn. Treat it with medicines or with herbal remedies. If the burn gets secondarily infected and starts oozing pus then consult your family physician immediately, you probably need antibiotics for this one.

Dr. Rachita Narsaria