There’s nothing worse than enjoying a day in the sunshine, only to discover later on that you’ve got sunburn. It can really wipe the smile from your face, especially if it starts peeling and blistering.
Not only is sunburn painful but it can lead to skin cancer. Research has shown that getting sunburnt just once every two years will triple your chances of having melanoma skin cancer.
This is why it’s really important you protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays by wearing sun cream of factor 30 or more and at least a four-star UVA protection rating. Children should wear factor 50+.
What is sunburn?
Your body tries to repair the damage caused by the sun to your skin cells by increasing the size of the blood cells around the affected area so that more blood can reach it. It also releases chemicals which leads to your skin becoming inflamed. If the sunburnt area can’t be repaired, your skin gets rid of the damaged skin cells by peeling.
Handpicked article: Protect your skin with mineral sunscreen
What natural remedies can help?
Before you instinctively reach for a bottle of after sun, you might want to try a natural remedy such as aloe vera instead:
One of the best natural remedies for minor sunburn is aloe vera. It can be great at soothing your skin, however, if you have severe sunburn, you will need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Aloe vera is a tropical “wonder plant” and its leaves contain a gel which has been used since Egyptian times to apply on sore skin and wounds. It’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and helps hydrate skin as it has a high water content. It contains over 200 ingredients which help give it its calming properties.
How do you apply aloe vera?
If you have an aloe vera plant, you might want to use the gel directly from your plant’s leaves, but make sure you cool it in your fridge first.
Before you apply it to your sunburn, you’ll need to test a small part of your skin to check that it doesn’t cause any irritation. If your skin doesn’t react you should be able to use it on your sunburn – but make sure you add a layer of alcohol-free moisturiser on top too.
Alternatively, to save yourself time and hassle, you could buy a tube of aloe vera gel and apply it to your sunburn every few hours. It should start soothing your skin straight away and help prevent it from peeling.
There are other natural soothing remedies that you may want to try out too, such as:
Head to your freezer and find a bag of frozen peas (or any other frozen vegetable) and apply to your sunburn. Make sure you’ve wrapped the bag in a tea towel first as you don’t want to give yourself frostbite.
A cool shower
One of the quickest ways of providing instant relief to your skin is by having a cool shower. You’ll also wash off any salt or chlorine if you’ve been swimming.
Make some black tea (using 3 or 4 tea bags), let it cool, then dab on your sunburn using a flannel or cloth. It’ll reduce inflammation and will help your skin heal.
Run yourself a cool bath and add some porridge oats. It sounds strange but the oats will react with the water and help soothe your sunburn. If you don’t have any oats in your cupboard, you can use cornstarch or baking soda instead.
If you want your skin to heal quickly, dab on some raw honey or spread it on a bandage and wrap it around the affected area. It’s an anti-bacterial and will stop your burn from becoming infected.