Tried and Trusted Remedies for Sunburn

Travel Talk

The skin is the largest organ in the body. So, do take care of it especially whilst sunbathing. As already mentioned in previous articles there is no such thing as a safe tan. More and more cases of skin cancer are being seen by the medical profession every year. The main offender is too much exposure to ultra-violet rays from the sun which leads to sun burn. And this UV radiation is additive. One of my university tutors used to say “think of your skin as a savings account. Exposure to the sun’s rays stays in this bank. Further exposure adds more damage to this account”.

Here are my tried and trusted remedies for sunburn gleaned from almost 45 years in pharmacy.

It is crucial that with sunburn as it is with all burns to get the heat out of the skin. So, immersing the area in cool water is imperative. Milk is very soothing for sunburn too. Mix 2 parts milk to 5 parts water. Add ice cubes and compress the skin for 20 minutes.

Tried and trusted remedies for sunburn Natural yoghurt smeared over the sunburnt area is excellent. Leave for 15/20 minutes and wash off. You could try a 50/50 mix of vinegar and olive oil. Simply mix together, give it a shake and apply.

Applying witch hazel to the skin will reduce inflammation taking the heat out of the skin and relieve the sunburn. Dip cotton wool balls in the witch hazel and massage the skin gently or just dab the affected area.

Neat gin applied to the skin will soothe and relieve too. I personally prefer to drink it so cheaper alternatives include slices of cold potato, apple and cucumber and cold tea bags are equally as good. Toast the result by drinking the gin!

Lemon juice eases the burn but do not apply to broken skin. Unbroken skin only. Aloe vera is superb too bringing rapid relief.

Tried and trusted remedies for sunburn Sitting in a bath of not too hot water containing a mugful of apple cider vinegar does the trick also. In the same vein adding 3 cupfuls of baking soda to the bath will help reduce skin redness too.

Over exposure to the sun has many effects ranging from headaches and tiredness and nausea to collapse and dizziness and sickness. It is vital to keep hydrated. Sunburnt skin loses its ability to sweat so the mechanism for the body to keep cool is compromised. Many soaps can irritate and dry burned skin so avoid.

Sun-damaged and chapped lips can be revitalised with tea bags. Simply wet a tea bag with warmish water and press gently onto the lips for 5/10 minutes. The result of your efforts – perfect lips again (providing you had perfect lips before you went out into the sun – I can’t produce a miracle).

Lavender oil works on the skin too. Add it neat to the damaged skin. Too severe? Try a diluted version – 10 drops of oil to 30ml of boiled and cooled water and dab onto unblistered skin. Mrs H from Sheffield always used 15 drops of lavender oil or tea tree in 2 tablespoons of rose water. She swore by it! Used it on all her family and neighbourhood with excellent results.

Tried and trusted remedies for sunburn Jane B mixed equal parts of honey and aloe vera and smeared the skin, washing off after 30 minutes. One of my oldest customers aged 98, mixed tomato juice with buttermilk from the family farm. Leave on for 20 minutes and gently wash off.

Finally, an oatmeal bath will ease the skin and relieve prickly heat too. Run a bath containing oatmeal in a netting bag and soak for half an hour or more. You would get the same effect by filling the bath with water run through a bag full of oats located by the taps.


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Dave Harcombe

Travelling pharmacist

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