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11 Effective Natural Home Remedies to Heal a Sunburn for Kids & Adults

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

A little girl with sunglasses lying on a beach towel

We're heading into nicer weather and with warmer, sunnier days, it's important to protect our skin and be prepared for those times when we may get a little too much sun and need to reach for some quick DIY sunburn relief.


While a certain amount of sun exposure is important to help your body get the necessary amount of vitamin D, getting too much sun can be bad for your health. If you’ve ever experienced a sunburn, you know that it can make you feel miserable and interrupt your scheduled plans. If your child has had a sunburn, you know how hard it can be to comfort them and quickly bring them some relief.


There’s nothing worse than being on vacation and having a sunburn ruin your stay! While the best plan of action is always prevention of sunburn in the first place (check out our post here for some favorite, natural sunscreens for your kids and family), it’s important to know how to get rid of sunburn if it occurs.


Luckily, there are some natural sunburn remedies that can provide effective relief for your family. Some of these ideas might seem a bit unconventional, but it's nice to know that you likely have some of these helpful remedies in your medicine cabinet or pantry, and you can easily pack them for your family vacation just in case you need them.


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1. Aloe Vera


The aloe vera plant has long been known for its medicinal purposes, including healing wounds and burns. It's probably the most popular and well-known natural treatment for sunburn, and provides nearly instant, cooling relief to inflamed red skin.


All-natural aloe vera gel is a clear substance that has powerful plant-based nutrients to not only soothe the skin, but hydrate and heal your skin as well. Aloe vera can even prevent itchy skin and peeling from a sunburn. It's important to use a pure aloe vera product and to avoid unnecessary additives. Whether you break off a piece of the actual aloe vera plant or use a 100% natural gel free of preservatives, aloe vera is at the top of the list of helpful home remedies for sunburn.


2. Vitamin E


Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that serves as an important antioxidant and helps to fight free radical damage in the body. Vitamin E plays a critical role in various bodily processes including healthy function of bodily organs, neurological function, and enzyme production and function.


Vitamin E is often taken in gel capsule form as a supplement, and can also be used to promote healing of the skin tissue after a sunburn. Vitamin E for sunburn can help to decrease the associated inflammation, further reducing pain and promoting healing. You can either buy vitamin E oil to apply directly to your sunburn, or prick vitamin E capsules open with a pin to squeeze the oil out and rub it onto your affected skin.


3. Apple Cider Vinegar


Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a favorite home remedy for many things, including aiding in digestion, and relieving leg cramps. It's also a helpful treatment for providing sunburn relief. ACV is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that can reduce pain and provide soothing relief for sunburned skin. Because it is an acid, ACV can help to rebalance the pH of sunburned skin, reducing itching and promoting healing.


There are also important vitamins and minerals in ACV that can replace nutrients lost when the skin has been damaged by the sun. If you use ACV on your sunburn, dilute it with a little water before applying it to your skin, or you can dip a wet washcloth into some vinegar and then dab it onto your skin for quick cooling and relief from your sunburn. You can even add about a cup of ACV to bath water as an alternative method to soothe your sunburned skin.


4. Witch Hazel


Another of the home remedies for sunburn is witch hazel. Witch hazel is a liquid derived from the witch hazel shrub plant found in North America. It is common to many household medicine cabinets and is typically used as an astringent. It is used to treat acne, bruising, and other skin issues.


Witch hazel contains natural compounds called tannins that serve as powerful antioxidants, decreasing inflammation and speeding healing time. Putting witch hazel on sunburn can effectively help to reduce the pain and itchiness that can occur. It can be applied directly to the skin with a cotton ball or cloth. It can also be added to a spray bottle filled with water to be sprayed on the skin for sunburn relief.


Witch hazel extract has the most concentrated amount of healing tannins to effectively help with sunburn, so be sure to read the label when choosing a witch hazel product.




5. Coconut Oil


When you are trying to figure out how to get rid of sunburn naturally, consider using coconut oil. Not just for cooking, coconut oil is also used as a body beauty product. It is especially known for its role as an excellent moisturizer, soothing dry skin and preventing or reversing wrinkles. This saturated, but healthy fat contains a substance known as lauric acid that has strong antimicrobial properties.


Coconut oil fights bacteria, reduces inflammation, and aids in repairing skin cells. Since coconut oil is effective for various skin conditions, it is a sensible choice for treating sunburn. Additionally, coconut oil has analgesic properties, making it helpful in reducing pain associated with sunburn. It may also help to reduce redness more quickly and to prevent peeling skin.


Coconut oil can easily be applied directly to the skin as a sunburn moisturizer, or it can be added to a bath to help seal in moisture for your whole body.


6. Cool Compress


Cool water can do a lot to provide relief from sunburn. You can place a cool cloth compress on sunburned skin and experience immediate relief from your sunburn. You want to be careful not to rub the skin as this may further irritate your sunburn.


Another option would be to take a cool bath or shower to ease the pain of your sunburn. You can do this as frequently as desired to reduce irritation and pain from sunburn. If you are taking a bath, you can add calming and soothing essential oils like lavender or chamomile to the water as an additional healing aid. When you get out of the bath or shower, pat yourself dry but be sure to leave a bit of moisture on your skin to provide additional relief and to facilitate healing.


7. Epsom Salt


Epsom salt is another economical multi-purpose product to keep in your home. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate and is often used for medical purposes including relieving sore, aching muscles or relieving constipation. The magnesium in Epsom salt is anti-inflammatory, making it a good choice to use to relieve painful sunburn.


Epsom salt can be added to a soaking bath to provide relief from itching and pain from your sunburn. You can add about 2 cups of Epsom salt to your bath water. If you put the Epsom salt directly under the running water it will dissolve most easily. It can also be added to a spray bottle filled with water (about two tablespoons) and then sprayed onto sunburned skin.


8. Baking Soda


Baking soda has so many household uses from baking to cleaning to deodorizing. Baking soda works to balance the pH level in the body, has antiseptic properties, reduces inflammation and itching, and has a cooling, soothing affect to provide relief from sunburn.


Baking soda can be used with water to make a soothing paste to apply to the skin. It can be added to a bath to help reduce redness and irritation from sunburn. Baking soda can be sprinkled onto damp skin, or added to a spray bottle of water to spray on the skin.



9. Essential Oils


Some essential oils like lavender and peppermint can help to provide soothing relief for sunburned skin. Lavender oil can help to reduce the redness and stinging skin from a sunburn and can aid in recovery because of its antibacterial properties.


Peppermint works as a natural analgesic so it manages the pain associated with sunburn. Peppermint is also very cooling to the skin and can provide effective relief.


You can mix essential oils with water in a small spray bottle and spray on your body for quick sunburn relief. Remember that adding essential oils like lavender or chamomile to a bath can also be used as a sunburn treatment.

10. Tea Bags


Tea, especially black tea, contains tannic acid that helps to rebalance the pH level in your body. The tannins in tea work to draw the excess heat away from sunburned skin, providing fast relief. Tea also contains compounds known as catechins that work to help prevent and repair damage to the skin.


Additionally, tea can help to reduce the inflammation associated with sunburn, thus promoting healing. You can use a clean cloth to apply undiluted freshly brewed and cooled tea to your skin, or apply tea bags that have been soaked in water to sunburned skin areas. Let the tea thoroughly dry on your skin, and for best results, leave it on overnight and shower in the morning to wash it off.


11. Cornstarch


Another staple you're likely to have in your pantry is cornstarch, and it is used in the same ways as baking soda to treat sunburn. It's easy to make a paste with cornstarch and water to spread onto the sunburned areas of your skin. This mixture can provide soothing relief rather quickly. You can also add about a cup of cornstarch to a bath and soak for at least 30 minutes to soothe your sunburn.


A different option is to sprinkle the cornstarch onto your damp skin after a bath or shower and use a sponge to gently spread it onto your sunburned skin. Finally, you can fill a spray bottle with water and add some cornstarch, then spritz some of this mixture onto your skin for sunburn relief. Some people also sprinkle a bit of cornstarch in their bed sheets to prevent chafing skin and to provide soothing relief throughout the night.


A red head woman holding her hand to her cheek

Other tips along with our natural remedies for sunburn


  • Getting a sunburn can be particularly drying for the skin, so it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water to rehydrate. When you replace the fluids lost with a sunburn, your skin can recover more quickly. Try to minimize or refrain from caffeine and alcohol during the healing process as these can contribute to dehydration. Pure water, coconut water, and herbal teas are all excellent choices to help replenish your body and help you stay hydrated.


  • It's important to take steps to prevent sunburn in the first place. Always use protective sunscreen and cover your body as appropriate when being exposed to the sun for longer than 15 minutes at a time. If despite your best efforts you end up with a sunburn, another tip is to use a natural, fragrance-free moisturizing lotion on your skin up to several times a day. When you have a sunburn, avoid additional prolonged sun exposure and if you must be outside in the sun, use a sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher, and keep sunburned areas well-covered.


  • If need be, you can take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever like ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation while your sunburn heals. There are also OTC hydrocortisone creams that may provide some relief from the uncomfortable itching and pain of sunburn. If you experience peeling skin or blistering, resist the temptation to peel the skin or break the blisters as this can lead to infection. Be sure to see your doctor if you have painful blistering, have a fever, or if you experience any other complications associated with your sunburn.


A mother and daughter holding hands outside as if dancing

Getting a bad sunburn is certainly uncomfortable and bothersome. It can be reassuring, however, to know that relief from your sunburn can likely be found by looking in your pantry or medicine cabinet at home. These available natural skin care options are convenient, cost-effective, and can be used without having to worry about any harmful side effects. The next time you end up with a sunburn, try one of these natural treatment options to get relief and promote healing.


All blog content shared through HealthSmart! Kids is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as medical advice. Always talk with your qualified health care provider for managing your health care needs.


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