Ache-Easing Salves and Balms
Aloe vera gel is an age-old sunburn remedy. Keep a bottle in the fridge and smooth it on after your first signs of sizzle. The Soothing Calendula Salve from Healing Anthropology contains calendula, an immune system stimulant, and neem oil, an anti-inflammatory and burn remedy. Mild rubs containing witch hazel and chamomile are also popular.
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Fill Up the Bathtub
Soaking in a cool tub can take the heat out of your burn. Add some soothing holistic remedies to help speed the healing process. David Parker of The Body Deli skin-care line recommends The Sun Worshiper Bath, which you should soak in for at least 20 minutes:
- 2 cups colloidal oatmeal
- 1 cup baking soda
- 3 cups buttermilk
Other bath add-ins to try include 4 to 5 green tea bags, 1 cup of white vinegar or generous amounts of lavender oil.
Sunburn Soothers Straight from the Pantry
Nancy A. Stolfo-Corti of Houston remembers her Italian parents bathing her in tomato juice when she was sunburned, a remedy she says takes the sting out of the burn. Rena M. Reese’s Greek grandmother also passed down her secret to soothing sunburn: Apply a vinegar-soaked washcloth to the burn and it should take the sting out immediately. “Sure you smell like salad, but it’s major relief,” Reese, of Potomac, MD., says. Others swear that mayonnaise, milk and sliced potatoes placed on the skin help cool the burn.
Heal from the Inside Out
An anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, taken shortly after the burn will help relieve pain and lessen skin damage, says San Diego dermatologist Jeffrey Benabio. Also, drink lots of water to replenish your skin’s lost fluids. Redness and pain usually peak within 1 to 2 days of the initial burn and takes about 3 to 7 days to subside. Then you can look forward to the dead skin peeling for about two weeks.
A severe burn can make sleeping difficult. To ease the pain, Dr. Benabio recommends 400 milligrams of aspirin or ibuprofen every four hours, regularly applying Eucerin Calming Creme, and lots of cool baths. Wearing light, loose clothing—or as little clothing as possible—can also help reduce pain.
Severe Sunburns Need a Doctor’s Care
Severe, painful burns that make sleeping difficult, or oozing wounds that become infected, usually require a doctor’s care. A dermatologist can provide a topical steroid cream, corticosteroid or an anti-inflammatory moisturizer to speed recovery. Dermatologists caution against using over-the-counter lidocaine sprays because they can cause an allergic reaction. If your sunburn is accompanied by fever, chills, upset stomach or confusion, seek medical attention immediately.
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