- Preventing Sunburn The Natural Way: Astaxanthin
- Treating Sunburn The Natural Way
Fun in the sun. It’s a traditional part of summer, but for many of us, it’s accompanied by sunburn. If you have read my previous article, you might not have this problem, but if you haven’t been following the advice in that article long enough yet, you still might burn before it has time to take effect.
My Best Remedy
When I was a child, I tanned easily, and never seemed to need sunscreen. But my first year in high school, I went on a spring break with my youth group to a Florida state park on the Gulf. I had never realized that most years I gradually got a tan in the spring before spending hours in the sun. The tropical sun on my winter-white skin gave me a horrible burn that even blistered the same day. By mid-afternoon I was in serious pain.
Luckily for me, our first trip to the nearest town for various provisions was that afternoon. I was buying some after-sun spray in the local (and only) drug store, when the sales clerk said, “Oh, honey, don’t buy that!”
She proceeded to tell me how her young child had very pale skin that would never tan, resulting in many bad burns in the summer months.
And so I got my first natural remedy: Philips Milk of Magnesia. Mint flavored.
That evening, I followed the clerk’s instructions and put as much milk of magnesia as I could get to stay on without it dripping off, and then allowed it to dry. It immediately made my sunburn feel much better. I then very gently rinsed it off with cool water. I was amazed to see that the almost florescent redness of my skin was gone. My skin was still red, but not nearly as painful.
The following morning I had only a deep tan that did not peel. No sign of the blisters or the nearly purple color I had had in some areas remained. And 20 years later, a skin exam to detect early skin cancer showed no signs of damage.
Milk of magnesia has been around since 1829, and is a simple alkaline solution. Most people are deficient in magnesium, so if you absorb a bit through your skin, it’s not going to hurt. And your skin will very definitely not hurt! I think the mint gave it a cooling effect other flavors might not have.
For Lesser Burns
Mint milk of magnesia works wonders on bad burns, but it is time-consuming and sloppy. For lesser burns, or for times when coating most of your body with a sloppy substance and then standing in the shower for an hour isn’t going to work out, there are other options, depending on whether you’re treating the cause or attempting to chase the pain:
Treating the Cause:
Aloe vera gel has been used for burns of all kinds, from cooking to sunburns, for hundreds of years. It’s best to use the live plant, if you have one that is large enough to treat your sunburn without destroying the plant. If not, there are several brands of aloe vera gel that can be helpful. The aloectin B in aloe is one of the substances that helps to heal burns. This also helps with the pain, particularly if you chill it first.
This is the topic of my article on preventing sunburn, but as a powerful antioxidant, it also treats radiation damage, and does it even more effectively than vitamin E, which is the antioxidant most often recommended for treating sunburn. Unlike vitamin E, though, it will stain your skin red temporarily if you apply it. It is effective both internally and externally. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Aspirin or Willow
Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory derived from willow. The simplest form of aspirin is best. Many people report good results from taking the maximum dose of aspirin as soon as they realize they’re sunburned. Obviously, this also helps with the pain.
A folk remedy with scientific backing, calendula not only soothes but fights infection as it helps heal sunburn.
Turmeric is another powerful anti-inflammatory, or at least the curcurmin in it is! So go have some curry. Seriously, it does work well, but do not take both it and aspirin at the same time, because both are blood thinners. In fact, if you’re on a blood thinner, don’t use either remedy.
Treating the Pain:
Some of the remedies that treat the cause will also treat the pain, so I won’t repeat those here.
Cider vinegar removes the pain and sting, and is an old remedy. However, make sure you moisturize your skin well when using it, because it will dry out your skin. Do not use petroleum jelly (like Vaseline), which, besides being a petrochemical, will hold the heat of the burn in.
Milk is another old remedy. The protein in the milk helps soothe, and if you are lucky enough to have raw milk, there is a natural cortisoid in the cream that will also help soothe your skin. Plain yogurt can also help.
Black Tea Bags
Another very old remedy. Moistened bags work particularly well for eyelids. You can either use the bags, or make the tea and spray it on with a mister, or sit somewhere where you can pour it repeatedly over the effected area.
Another old remedy. Some people report that they break up vitamin E capsules and aspirin tablets in the oatmeal, and use tea and/or vinegar to moisten the oatmeal, making a paste with it so that the other ingredients can be absorbed.
Slices of Vegetables And Fruits
People report using slices of cucumbers, apples, and potato to help soothe the burn.
Cautions and Tips:
- Be careful using astringents, like witch hazel or rubbing alcohol. They can dry the skin, increasing the risk of cracking and infection. Dilute vinegar and tea before using, because both are astringent.
- Remove the heat before using aloe vera or calendula gel by first applying an ice-cold cloth. The gel can lock in the heat. While it may still heal, it will not cool as well.
Do you have a favorite remedy? Tell me in the comments!
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