[By Julia Key]
When I was six, I burnt my skin badly after a week in Gold Coast with my cousins. My grandma, a firm believer in home remedies, whipped up a wonderfully creamy concoction and lathered it onto my skin. I always remembered the comforting, milky aroma as it soothed my sunburn and my tears away. The next day, my skin had magically calmed down and as good as new.
We all know the adage: Prevention is better than cure. But if you have succumbed to a moment of sun folly, fear not, here are some good old remedies that will soothe your skin and heal the burn.
Cooling Soda Soak
Who knew that good old baking soda could be a sunburn remedy? Adding a few heaping tablespoons of baking soda to cool bath water is all you need to calm angry, burnt skin. Limit your soaking time to 15 minutes, lest you dry out your burnt skin further. After your cool soak, resist the urge to towel off. Instead air-dry, and don’t wipe the baking soda off. It will act as a skin salve for your irritated skin.
Healing Oatmeal Bath
This is another one of my favourites. Oatmeal added to cool bathwater offers another wonderful relief for sunburned skin. Fill up the bathtub with cool water–not cold water because you don’t want to shock your body system. Be sure to avoid bath salts, oils, or bubble bath which will dry out your burnt skin further. Instead, scoop 1/2 to 1 cup oatmeal — an ideal skin soother — and mix it in. As with the baking soda, air-dry your body and don’t wipe the oatmeal off your skin.
Aloe Vera skin soother
The thick, gel-like juice of the aloe vera plant can take the sting and redness out of a sunburn. Aloe vera causes blood vessels to constrict giving your skin instant relief from your sunburn. Simply slit open one of the broad leaves and apply the gel directly to the burn. Apply five to six times per day for several days.
Yoghurt & honey skin moisturiser
This yummy recipe works as well as it tastes. Whip half a cup of full cream, plain yogurt with 3 tablespoons of honey until you get a smooth, creamy mixture. Yogurt is a good skin moisturizer while honey has antiseptic properties that make it ideal for burnt skin. Chill the whipped mixture in the refrigerator and apply onto burnt skin as needed. Be sure not to get flavoured or low fat yogurt which does not work as well. This recipe calls for the traditional full cream yogurt. This remedy works best after your bath soaks above. While cool baths and compresses can make you feel better, they can also end up robbing moisture from your injured skin. To prevent drying, apply moisturizer immediately after your soak when your skin is till damp.
Who knew potatoes have so many uses? The plain old potato makes for a wonderful pain reliever. It’s a time-tested technique known throughout the world. Take two washed potatoes, cut them into small chunks, and place them in a blender or food processor. Blend or process until the potatoes are in liquid form. Add water if they look dry. Pat the burned areas with the pulverized potatoes. Wait until the potatoes dry, then take a cool shower. Another less messy method is to apply the mash to a clean gauze and place on the burn. Change the dressing every hour. Continue applying several times a day for a few days until the pain is relieved.
Cornstarch Baby powder
Sunburns often strike where skin meets bathing suit. Sensitive and hard-to-reach spots you’ve neglected to smear with suntan lotion (along bikini lines, underneath buttock cheeks, or around the breasts and armpits) often fall victim. These burn spots then have to face daily irritation from tight elastic in bras and underwear. To ease chafing, cover the burned area with a dusting of cornstarch. Don’t apply petroleum jelly or oils, which can exacerbate the burn by blocking pores. If the burn is blistering, however, don’t apply anything and consult a doctor instead.
Green tea facial
Brew up a pot of green tea and let it cool. Soak a clean muslin cloth in the tea, and use it as a mask for sunburned areas on your face. Green tea contains ingredients that help protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation damage and reduce inflammation. Best of all, green tea is known for its anti-ageing benefits as well!
Vinegar contains acetic acid—one of the components of medications such as Aspirin. It can help ease sunburn pain, itching, and inflammation. Soak a thin pieces of muslin cloth in white vinegar, and apply them to the sunburned areas. Leave them on until the towels are dry. Repeat as needed.
Baking soda & vinegar salve
This is a useful spot treatment for the severely burnt. Mix baking soda and vinegar to form a thick, creamy paste. Slather it over the sunburned areas. Apply the salve before bedtime, and leave it on overnight.