health

I Smeared 8 Different Home Remedies On My Severe Sunburn. Here’s What Worked

by Jess Catcher
Jess grew up in Oklahoma before moving to New York to become a writer. She has a cat named Agnes.

After a recent long day at the beach, I was in dire need of some sunburn home remedies.

Let me start by saying that, yes, I did apply sunscreen while I was there — and more than once, even! But whether the SPF wasn’t up to snuff or I just wasn’t as good at spreading it around as I thought, I found myself in a lot of pain by the time I finally made it back home.

To be honest, it’s pretty rare that I spend that much time in the sun. I’m more of a “stay indoors, pop in a movie marathon, and order some pizza” kind of gal. But my friends can usually manage to drag me out to the beach at least once a year. Apparently, the sun decided to take full advantage of my rare presence this year.

With that in mind, I wasn’t sure how much I could trust the aloe vera ointment that had been sitting in my medicine cabinet for who knows how long. So, I looked into some fresher home remedies that I could find in my kitchen and bathroom.

Of course, everyone’s skin is unique and can have totally different reactions to the items I used. Be sure to test on a small patch to check for allergies before smearing anything all over your body!

Take a look below to see how eight sunburn home remedies worked out for me.

What Is A Sunburn?

<u>What Is A Sunburn?</u>
Jess Catcher for LittleThings

Most of us have experienced bouts of uncomfortably scorched skin at some point in our lives, but do you know what exactly causes them?

Those lucky enough to tan are examples of the body fighting off the harmful UVA and UVB rays with melanin.

Instead, burns are what Live Science calls a “toxic reaction” to the sun. Those of us with fairer skin are unfortunately more prone to this predicament.

A Warning About Your Skin

sunscreen
Jess Catcher for LittleThings

You might think having a few sunburns over the course of your life is no big deal, but skin cancer is actually the most common form of cancer in our society.

The Skin Cancer Foundation also warns that “sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80 percent. On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.

I’m pretty sure I’ve exceeded five burns in my life, so I’m definitely going to be extra careful the next time I spend any amount of time out in the sun.

But since the damage was already done in this case, I was more focused on easing my pain.

Why Home Remedies?

<u>Why Home Remedies?</u>
Jess Catcher for LittleThings

As I said, I had some old aloe vera ointment, but I couldn’t even remember when I bought it and the expiration date had long faded away.

Since I felt like someone lit my back and chest on fire, I decided to look into any home treatments I could use with what was already in my kitchen and bathroom.

As it turned out, there were plenty of options to choose from — so I went ahead and tried them all!

Home Remedy #1: Greek Yogurt

Home Remedy #1: Greek Yogurt
Jess Catcher for LittleThings

Why It Should Help: Yogurt is full of probiotics, active cultures, calcium, protein, and zinc — all of which should help aid the healing process.

Sprouting Healthy Habits recommends spreading a thin layer and leaving it for 10 to 20 minutes (or until it’s dry) before rinsing.

My Verdict: The cooling effect was nice after taking it straight out of my fridge, but I couldn’t really sense any other benefit from this after my first application. Plus, I wasn’t a huge fan of the dairy smell that lingered.

Home Remedy #2: Apple Cider Vinegar

Home Remedy #2: Apple Cider Vinegar
Jess Catcher for LittleThings

Why It Should Help: HealthLine cites the antimicrobial aspects of good ole ACV for treating a sunburn.

They also recommend either diluting it with water before spritzing yourself, or ringing out a towel soaked in the liquid before gently applying small amounts.

Obviously, the acidic nature of this and any vinegar means you need to be very careful when using it on such a sensitive ailment.

My Verdict: I used the method of wringing out a paper towel to gently tamp a small amount of the vinegar onto my burn.

And yep, it stung — not so much that I was crying out in pain, but enough to deter me from using this method again any time soon. Also, the smell was once again less than desirable.

Home Remedy #3: Oatmeal

Home Remedy #3: Oatmeal
Jess Catcher for LittleThings

Why It Should Help: Oatmeal has long been known for its anti-inflammatory effects on skin.

Advice, like that found on LifeHacker, tends to skew toward taking a luxurious bath soaking in the oats. Living in New York, I don’t really have the tub to make that happen, so I asked my (very kind) roommate to slather my back in cooled-down oats.

My Verdict: It felt nice, but then… droopy and gloopy and not so nice, even while she was still applying the breakfast dish to my back.

She could barely take a moment to snap this pic before it all, uh, went south. I definitely recommend only attempting this method if you have a suitable tub.

Home Remedy #4: Chamomile Tea

Home Remedy #4: Chamomile Tea
Jess Catcher for LittleThings

Why It Should Help: According to Greatist, chamomile is among several teas that can help sooth the burn through their anti-inflammatory properties.

They even recommend applying the cooled-down tea bags directly to extra-sensitive areas (which I did, as you can see in the photo above).

My Verdict: This was one of the most instantly soothing effects I had while testing these out. I’m not sure if it had the same calming effect it does while drinking it before bed at night, but it definitely wasn’t a bad experience.

Home Remedy #5: Witch Hazel

Home Remedy #5: Witch Hazel
Jess Catcher for LittleThings

Why It Should Help: LifeHacker recommends this for its anti-inflammatory effect on multiple skin-related issues.

They also promised it could potentially curb unsightly peeling. Spoiler alert — I was peeling the next day.

My Verdict: Despite the peeling still happening, I was pleasantly surprised by how nice this felt.

Seeing the word “astringent” is scary when applying something to such a sensitive skin condition, but I could actually feel it cooling my skin down with zero sting or pain.

Home Remedy #6: Milk

Home Remedy #6: Milk
Jess Catcher for LittleThings

Why It Should Help: Like yogurt, the protein in milk should help with pain management, while the fat content locks in the moisture, according to Home Remedies for Life.

My Verdict: Also like yogurt, I was unimpressed. The smell was even worse and, although it was nice that it was cold on my warm skin, I couldn’t see any immediate or lasting effect from this particular application.

To quote an indifferent cow, “Mehhh.”

Home Remedy #7: Cornstarch

Home Remedy #7: Cornstarch
Jess Catcher for LittleThings

Why It Should Help: Dr. Oz himself claims this as a soothing treatment for all sorts of skin irritations thanks to its moisture-absorbing qualities.

My Verdict: I really struggled with this one, as it was hard to find a decent consistency with the water and cornstarch that actually made an adequate paste. I admit this could be user error, but I tried really hard and could never get it quite right.

Despite that, I still asked my roommate to pour and smear it onto my back. The smearing didn’t actually work out, though. It was such an inconsistent level of liquid-to-paste concoction that I ultimately got nothing out of this.

Home Remedy #8: Honey

Home Remedy #8: Honey
Jess Catcher for LittleThings

Why It Should Help: As far as anti-inflammatories goes, this is supposed to be the mother of them all.

Home remedy sites like Common Sense Homesteading lists it as a cure for all sorts of ailments, and not just for its anti-bacterial aspects.

That said, I was pretty reluctant to smear myself with such a sticky substance.

My Verdict: It was really dang gross at first, but after a few minutes, I could actually feel it soaking in and making my skin feel better.

It also rinsed off so much easier than I thought. I didn’t even have to scrub with soap: it just melted away with water.

Additionally, I could totally see a difference after just a few minutes of letting it sit on my skin before washing it away.

Which Worked Best And Why

<u>Which Worked Best And Why</u>
Jess Catcher for LittleThings

As much as I was dreading it, I think the honey really did the most good. I could see a difference as soon as I rinsed it off, and the sting of my burn was significantly less severe.

The witch hazel also came in handy for wiping away any sticky spots I missed, as well as helping with some extra anti-inflammatory goodness.

As you can tell,the redness went away after a few days of using those two particular products. I’m not confident it will continue to fade into an actual tan, but I’m thrilled that the pain is almost totally gone.

Would you try any of these methods on a sunburn?

Be sure to SHARE the home remedies with your friends to see what works for them!