Taking the sting out of sunburn – treatments to try

Sunburn. It happens to the best of us. We’ve all heard the sun-safe message, but on a beautiful summer day spent in the garden or at the beach it’s easy to lose track of time and find yourself at the end of the day looking redder than a beetroot. Prevention – hats, shirts and sunscreen – is always the best cure; it’s the only sure-fire way to protect your skin from the ravages of the sun. However if the horse has already bolted on that one, and you find yourself sporting a rosey burn, you might want to give one of the following quirky sunburn treatments a try.

Cool as a cucumber

They don’t say ‘cool as a cucumber’ for no reason; with a very high water content – up to 98% – cucumbers are great at retaining cold temperatures. They’re Mother Nature’s handy little ice pack. Try chilling some cucumbers in the fridge then create a paste using a fork, potato masher or blender. Apply the paste to your sunburn for some immediate and lasting cool, soothing relief.

Aloe Vera

Since ancient times, aloe vera has been used to treat burns and other skin problems. The ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Hindu, Mesopotamians and Greeks all used it to heal burns and rashes and to this day it’s still one of the first things doctors use to treat radiation burns.

If you’re lucky enough to have some growing in the garden, use that on your sunburn – fresh is best – or buy a highly effective, carefully sourced and concentrated solution from National Custom Compounding. If you’re using fresh, be sure to peel back the tough outside skin of the aloe vera leaf and scoop out the sticky flesh inside – the outside of the leaf can be hard and scratchy – not something you want rubbed over sensitive sunburnt skin. Ouch!

Tomatoes and their skin

Not just for bolognaise, many people say tomatoes are also great at taking the sting out of a nasty sunburn.

Tomatoes contain something called lycopene, a substance that scientists love researching for all it’s surprising health benefits. For example a  clinical study in 2013 found that people who consumed a high level of lycopene in the form of tomato paste or tomato juice, had a 38% – 48% decrease in the solar simulator–induced sunburn after a 12 week period.  Who knew?

While there’s no scientific research around topical application of lycopene after sun exposure, many people report relief from sunburn by applying sliced or chopped tomatoes to the skin. Make sure you leave on the tomato skin as that’s where most of the lycopene is. 

It might be messy and you might start to feel like pasta, but people who’ve tried this say the sting and redness will start to go in a matter of minutes.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is great for treating any kind of inflammation in the skin and sunburn is no exception. Apply Vitamin E, in an oil or cream, liberally to the sunburn to give your suffering skin some much-needed antioxidant support. Taking Vitamin E oral supplements might also be worth trying if you have a particularly bad case of the crimson kiss, however oral Vitamin E works better as a preventative, rather than a cure.

 National Custom Compounding can make up high concentrations of Vitamin E oil and vitamins that may help if you find your skin particularly damaged by the sun.

You say potato

This is one your great grandmother might have used. It was what they did before sunscreen became widely available and it’s cheap, so worth a try.  Pulp some raw potatoes in a blender then dab the juice on your sunburn, and that’s it. They say this one is also good for flash burns from welding.  It’s believed starchy compounds in potatoes work to take the sting out of burns as well as draw out some of the heat.

Oatmeal, milk and honey

Another one your great grandmother may have used that again, harnesses the power of your kitchen pantry.  Add oats, milk and a little honey to a blender to make a paste then carefully apply to the sunburnt area. The milk/ oatmeal/ honey/ combination work to soothe the irritation and reduce the urge to itch.

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