Nothing ruins a trip to the beach like a case of sunburn. It can be dangerous – and the aftereffects can take many days to heal. So before anything else, preventing sunburn by better preparing for time in the sun is important – before you go. Do your homework and you and your family will be much happier along the way.
Should the sun shine a little too directly, and you do get burned, these are some quick natural remedies that won’t cost much, and that still provide relief from sunburn, and reduce the longer-term affects. Many of these treatments can be creatively combined and, if you plan for them, by keeping some extra ingredients in your house by the beach, your vacation won’t suffer in the least.
1) Compresses and Baths
Though much of what follows is about individual ingredients, lots of folks’ first impulse is to jump in a bath – or to apply something – anything. Here’s what.
Cool compress work and work well, but adding a bit of white vinegar, baking soda or oatmeal should give you faster, and more satisfying relief.
Adding white vinegar or baking soda will help to balance the pH on the skin and get your skin healing. About a quarter cup of vinegar or baking soda in a lukewarm bath and a long soak, and then some delicate drying with the softest towel you can find should have you wondering why you don’t do this all the time.
Oatmeal is probably going to be more important later on, during the itchy stage. For a new sunburn, stick with relieving the pain and avoiding any more damage.
You can also add a little chamomile tea to a bath or use the cooled tea bags on affected areas. It also makes an excellent cool compress for badly burned areas.
2) White Vinegar
There’s one more thing about white vinegar that you won’t get from baking soda. In addition to balancing the pH in your skin, it’s also a good source for the acetic acid that can also provide some relief from pain. It’s not much fun but you can dilute vinegar and spay a light layer over badly burned skin to relieve discomfort.
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Though it doesn’t contain that magical acid that you’ll find in vinegar, aloe vera still packs a lot of punch. Super high in nutrients, you can, and arguably should, eat it. Or drink it. Squeeze a little into your bottled water with cucumber, some lime, ginger and jalapeno and boost your immune system, while reducing peeling and scarring.
Most folks will opt for something a little more topical, like the lotions that come with aloe mixed in. Squeezed direct from the plant, though, you can avoid all the additives and chemicals that are intended to suspend the aloe on its way from the factory. Aloe provides a good dose anti-inflammatory to keep swelling in check and to ease the burn.
Increasingly, you’ll find aloe leaves in better markets if you haven’t got a big plant growing on your patio. Applied directly to the skin, the gel from every plant provides a lot of relief and should dry quickly.
If all of the above has you feeling too much like a human salad bar, there’s hope. Essential oil from a lavender plant smells terrific and, again, added to a cool bath or compress, the diluted oil provides healing and soothing relief from even pretty sever sunburns. It also makes a nice accompaniment to some baking soda or oatmeal in your bath. As a mist with 10 drops of lavender oil and half of water, it’s soothing, and makes everything around you smell great. Though you don’t want to eat it, some lavender will complement all of the other treatments mentioned here, including…
Probably the most widely available, don’t let them turn you into that human salad bar. On the contrary, you already know they’re cool, comforting and it can be applied to the skin, just like something far more expensive that you buy in a plastic bottle. Slices on the skin are fine, or you can drop slices into a blender, add some water and make a very satisfying bath, compress or mist. Cucumbers are especially comforting on sunburned faces, noses and foreheads. Natural antioxidant and pain-relieving properties should have you feeling better, and a little lavender, again, can keep you from feeling like a rabbit.
Don’t forget: if you’re comfortable with a pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen, one should help with some of the severe pain and inflammation in the early hours and days after a sunburn.
You’re always going to be happier planning your trip to the beach ahead to avoid sunburn and to treat the minor cases that may come up quickly – and perhaps without even leaving the beach. Remember, a cool beverage of aloe and cucumbers should make your skin more supple and better able to deflect some of the worst affects of the sun. It’s not the 1980s and lying out to bronze your skin is not nearly such a popular pastime as it was in the past. Skins are happier. Grown-ups and kids are healthier and happier and a day at the beach will be a lot happier too.