Sunburn is a painful reddening or swelling of the skin caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. There are a wide variety of commercial products are available to treat this condition, although people with allergies or aversions to chemical compounds may prefer to treat the condition with home remedies for sunburn. Luckily, since humans have always been subject to sunburn, many excellent home remedies exist to soothe the pain and promote a quick recovery. Cooling treatments, such as cool baths or aloe vera gel, can help, and staying hydrated is important so the body can heal itself.
A long cool bath can greatly reduce the pain and itching associated with a sunburn, but adding a few choice ingredients to the bath can also improve the treatment. Milk or baking soda added to a cool tub of water can help temporarily calm inflamed skin and reduce itching caused by the burn. Be careful to avoid products that dry the skin during this time, such as soap, shower gel, or bubble bath. People who are fans of home remedies for sunburn also recommend avoiding any bath or body product that lists alcohol as an ingredient, as this may sting and increase dryness.
There are also many remedies for sunburn that can be gently rubbed on the burn to reduce pain, swelling, and burning. Aloe vera gel can be extremely useful in soothing burns, as can extracts of vitamin E. These are both commonly available at health food supply stores, though aloe vera can easily be found by keeping an aloe plant and harvesting the spiny leaves.
If a person's eyelids have become burned or swollen, he or she can place slices of cucumber over them for 15 minutes. A cool, wet teabag can also help reduce eye swelling, but only an herbal tea that does not contain peppermint should be used, as mint may sting the eyes. For facial burns, a mask of yogurt and cucumber pieces can be mixed together and applied to the entire face.
Other remedies for sunburn can work better if the person stays well hydrated following a burn. Skin will become dry and parched when burned, as natural moisture and oils are dissolved by the intense UV rays. The skin can recover more quickly if the person drinks lots of cool water, which may also help to reduce swelling.
After the pain of the burn has largely subsided, dead skin may peel off for several days. Some home remedies also help treat peeling and reduce the amount of time it takes to shed dead cells. Brushing the skin gently with salt or coarse oatmeal can help flake off dead cells, but even more important is moisturizing the new layer of skin under the burn. A mix that combines honey and olive oil can be generously applied to the body five minutes before showering to give skin a deep moisturizing treatment.