Sunday, August 2, 2009

Burn, Baby, Burn

For the first time this summer I put on a swimsuit and Tony and I went to our municipal pool. Before we left, I slathered on sunscreen, especially on the parts of my body that are usually covered by clothes--the tops of my legs, my shoulders, and my back. Tony also brought an extra tube of sunscreen to the pool for us to use. We were not going to get burned!

After an hour of playing in the pool and sitting in a deck chair, I applied more sunscreen. I noticed that the stuff from Tony's tube was slightly yellow and oily, but I attributed it to the fact it was a different brand than I'm used to using. Later, when I went to use the bathroom, I noticed that my legs looked a little red. I moved the swimsuit strap to the edge of my shoulder and there was a definite mark where it had been before. My sunscreen had malfunctioned!

I threw the offending tube of sunscreen away, but the damage was done. Now, several hours later, my back, chest, and shoulders are burned. Usually we have a bottle of green goo sunburn reliever in the closet, but it seems to have disappeared, so today I researched natural remedies and home concoctions for sunburns.

I found out that there are literally dozens of suggestions for treating sunburn. Many of them involve ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen or medicine cabinet:
  • Aloe Vera – Break off a leaf of the plant, open it up lengthwise, and apply it to the burn. This works better than any gel you can buy.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Apply vinegar with a spray bottle. It helps reduce inflammation and will relieve some of the pain.
  • Aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen – Over the counter pain relievers will help lessen the pain and inflammation. Plan on taking them according to the package directions for at least the first day.
  • Baking soda – Baking soda is cooling and will help the skin retain moisture. Dissolve baking soda in water and make a compress using a clean cloth, or add 1/2 cup of baking soda to a cool bath and soak in it.
  • Cornstarch – Make a paste with cornstarch and water and apply to burned skin. Or add a cup to a cool bath and soak in it.
  • Cucumber – Slice a fresh cucumber into thin slices and gently pat it on the sunburn.
  • Epsom salts – Dissolve Epsom salts in water and make a compress using a clean cloth.
  • Milk – Make a compress of cool (not cold) whole milk and apply to the burned area with a clean cloth for 20 minutes; repeat every two to four hours. The fat content of the milk is soothing for burns.
  • Tea – Apply cool tea directly with a spray bottle or soak a small towel in the tea and drape over the burned areas. It instantly cools and relieves the burn, and the tannins in the tea will help the healing process.
  • Witch hazel – Apply with a compress.
  • Yogurt – Apply a small amount of plain yogurt, let it stand for a few minutes, leave on until the cooling action stops, then rinse off with cool water.
With all the natural ingredients I've applied to my body, I'll be going to bed tonight smelling like a salad. I wonder if I'll wake up hungry?


  1. I always make sure I buy new sunscreen every season as it is only good for one year. Sorry you got burnt!!

  2. Nancy, the ironic thing is that I'm (personally) on my second bottle of sunscreen for the year! Tony just grabbed an older tube.

  3. I am always amazed at the number of people who come to my pool and stay the entire day with young children in tow....... and nary a drop of sunscreen! They will come into the store before they leave and not only are they bright red, but shivering in the air conditioning. I keep sunscreen on the store shelf along with aloe vera lotion...... I don't sell a whole of it, though.