Water helps to soothe the skin when a towel soaked in it is applied to the sunburned area. Drinking plenty of water also helps because sunburned skin lacks the moisture it lost midway through the afternoon when reapplying sunscreen fell by the wayside.
The classic remedy for sunburn is aloe, either from the aloe vera plant or in the form of a gel or cream. The plant’s been used for years, but it’s also been proven by medical science to speed up healing time. The Mayo Clinic even recommends it for sunburn treatment, as does Dr. Wee, who lists aloe vera as one of her favorite home remedies for sunburn.
Adding sunblock after the burn isn't as strange as it sounds. The lotion or any moisturizer can be used to help the red skin recover. Be sure to use something that is mild to the skin. Sunburn makes your skin extra sensitive to irritation by dyes and fragrances.
Treating skin with oatmeal isn’t just for chickenpox. An oatmeal bath can help soothe sunburn, making it sting and itch less. Research shows that oats contain antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory, making an oatmeal bath a great option.
Don’t throw out the tea bag when making a cup of tea. Black tea contains the antioxidant tannic acid, which helps heal your burned skin and decrease redness. Chill the bag before bringing it in contact with your sunburn and rub it on the skin. Dr. Krant says the antioxidants in tea should help skin recover, and Dr. Wee says that green or black tea could be helpful.
Cucumbers are for more than just your eyes at the spa. Applying some slices to your sunburn helps cool the skin, especially if the cucumber was chilled before being sliced. Anything cool or wet will provide that feeling of "ahhh" when applied to sunburned skin.
Cold compresses can also be soaked in milk to help afflicted skin feel less painful or itchy. Dr. Krant says, “One of my favorite home remedies is cold milk compresses: milk in a bowl with ice cubes, soak washcloth and lay it over [the] painful or itchy area of skin.”
Those little containers of fermented milk in the fridge can help skin. “Yogurt is healing and soothing when applied cool to the skin,” says Dr. Krant. Regular or Greek doesn't matter here.
Applying potato to the skin is an old remedy to treat sunburn. Dr. Krant says, "A cold potato will draw heat from the skin, and the potato and peel itself are purported to help prevent infection if the skin is broken."
Despite its wicked-sounding name, this herbal extract has been used to treat skin and injuries for centuries. It acts like an astringent on the skin, cooling it when it dissolves. "Witch hazel is known to be cooling, soothing, and anti-inflammatory and would probably soothe a sunburn temporarily," says Dr. Krant.
Honey is used to treat wounds and acne, but some people claim it helps sunburn too. Dr. Krant says that this is likely because it feels cool on the skin.
Eating tomatoes has been shown to help increase the skin's protection against the sun, but some people claim applying slices or mashed pulp to the skin helps. Again, this is another case of cool and wet relieving the pain.