There is nothing worse than a nasty sunburn after a day out on the water. Check out some truths about your sunscreen. Prevention is, of course, the best cure but we often have visitors on board who either forget to use sunscreen or miss some spots on their bodies like the tops of their feet, their ears or behind the neck. Even with ample protection, I can sometimes feel the sting of a wind burn on my face, chest and arms. We do our best to remind everyone to carefully apply a good sunblock liberally, drink plenty of water and wear hats but it seems there is always at least one casualty. A sunburn is a painful nuisance and can easily turn into a medical emergency, so be sure to consult your doctor for severe burns, blisters, dizziness and dehydration.
My SOS go-to product for sunburn is aloe vera, the fresher the better. If you can get the gel from the natural plant, even better. I always have a bottle of pure Aloe Vera Gel handy for sunburn “patients” on the boat. The gel or juice in the plant has soothing qualities, especially for burns and is antibacterial. Even hospitals use aloe vera for burn victims.
Natural Sunburn Relief
If your sunburn is not too bad, it can easily be cured with some natural home remedies to ease the pain. Try these:
Vinegar: Vinegar, the wonder product! Rub vinegar on the affected area or put some in a spray bottle and mist over your skin. You may not smell great but your skin will immediately feel cooler.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil can immediately reduce the redness of a sunburn and also prevent peeling. Look for it in a health food store. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so you may need to warm it first. Place the jar in a saucepan filled with water and heat it over low heat on the stove. Once the oil has turned liquid, pour some on a cotton swab, let cool slightly, and gently dab over affected skin. You’ll smell delicious as you moisturize and soothe your skin!
Green Tea: Green tea can be just as effective as aloe vera when it comes to helping the skin heal. Use a cooled, tea-soaked washcloth as a compress on your tender skin.
Soda: A cup or two of baking soda poured into a bathtub full of warm water will relieve burnt skin and is a fantastic soak for those unfortunate enough to be burned over large areas of their body. You can also create a paste with baking soda and water and apply it as a compress.
Potatoes:Potatoes are an ancient method of pain relief. Be old school by chopping a clean potato into small chunks and pulverizing it into a liquid using a blender or food processor. Add water if needed, and then apply onto burned skin as a paste. Let dry, then rinse off in the shower. You can also coat gauze with liquid potato and apply to the skin as a dressing. Let sit for up to one hour, and apply several times a day.
Yogurt and Oatmeal: The healing properties of yogurt and oatmeal can be combined into a face mask or poultice. Combine 1/4 cup full-fat plain yogurt with 2 tablespoons oatmeal. Mix vigorously for one minute, then apply to the burn. Leave on for at least 10 minutes, then wash off with warm water.
Milk: We don’t know if Cleopatra suffered from sunburn, but legend has it that she used to bathe in milk. Milk is high in Vitamins A and D, which are great for nourishing the skin. Use whole milk or even goat’s milk in a compress to help sunburned skin heal more quickly.
Apples: This may be what they were talking about when they said “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Just cut an apple in half, remove the core, and rub over the affected area for 3–4 minutes. Apples will keep your skin from blistering or peeling.
Honey: Honey’s antioxidant properties make it a fantastic remedy for rejuvenating damaged skin. Apply a light layer of honey directly to burnt skin, let it sit for 20-30 minutes, then rinse off or dab off with a wet washcloth.
Cucumber: Cucumbers are known to be great with spa treatments, but did you know they’re good for sunburns, too? They are cool, refreshing, and will reduce your itching. Gently rub the sunburned area with fresh cucumber slices. Better yet, lay the slices on the affected area and allow the juices to penetrate your skin for 10-20 minutes. If you want to rinse off, try waiting a few hours to allow the cucumbers to keep working their magic.
I have not tried all of these treatments myself but they come highly recommended. If you know of a great way to soothe sunburn pain, please share it with us in the comments below.
The Best Sunburn Remedy is Prevention
*Remember that prevention is the best cure! Check out EWG’s Guide to Summer Sun. They examined sunscreens and discovered that most products offered poor protection from sun damage and contained toxic ingredients. They have a comprehensive list of good and safe products for sun protection.
My Favorite Standard Remedy
Even though Amber Solaire’s After Sun Soothing Hydrating Lotion is not a natural product, I absolutely love it. It is my all-time favorite after sun care product and I always have it on board. I love the cool, soothing relief of this milky moisturizing lotion on my skin.