Sunburn: natural remedies that help

If sunburn occurs, you have to provide good care for the damaged skin. Nature can help. Read on to learn about plant-based remedies that can be used to relieve symptoms.


Lara Brunner

Sunshine's a mood booster and helps you produce vitamin D, but too much UV radiation burns your skin. Sunburn is not only unattractive, but also painful and dangerous. Burning of the skin should absolutely be avoided. Use sun cream and optimal clothing to protect yourself according to your skin type. 

Here, you can read the sun protection tips from the Swiss League Against Cancer, Krebsliga.

Natural remedies for sunburn

Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory, cooling and moisturising properties. The gel also alleviates itching and helps with regeneration. In addition to aloe vera creams from the pharmacy, the gel from the plant can be used directly. Cut a leaf from the plant and let the liquid drain briefly, then wrap the leaf in cling film and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. Cut off a large piece of the cooled leaf and slice it open lengthwise. This will allow you to scrape out the gel and apply it directly to the sunburn.

Cucumber has a cooling and moisturising effect and can be used to soothe stressed skin. Cut a few cucumber slices and place them directly on the sunburn. The effect is enhanced with refrigerated cucumber. Cucumber can also be mixed with quark or yogurt and applied as a poultice. Let the skin absorb the mixture for ten minutes, then wipe the rest away.

Steep a black teabag for a few minutes, then put it in the refrigerator to cool. For small burns, you can place the cooled teabag directly on the damaged skin. Alternatively, you can prepare a decoction of chamomile flowers. Add five tablespoons of chamomile flowers to half a litre of boiling water. Steep the decoction for around ten minutes, then allow it to cool and soak some cloths in the mixture. You can apply these directly to the sunburn. Both methods soothe the skin, promote wound healing and prevent inflammation.

The tannins from oak bark help calm and protect the skin, and also alleviate itching. Bring two tablespoons of oak bark to the boil in 250ml water. Remove the oak bark pieces with a sieve and refrigerate the liquid. Fill a spray bottle with the cool liquid and spray the sunburn regularly.

After a cooling effect is achieved with the remedies already mentioned, St. John's wort oil can alleviate pain and help the skin regenerate. The oil also has antibacterial properties and serves to eliminate toxins more quickly. You can apply a thin layer of St. John's wort oil directly to the sunburn, or use strips of gauze that have been soaked in the oil.

Warning: St. John's wort oil increases photosensitivity. Avoid the sun after applying it.

General tips for sunburn

  • Remain in a dark and cool environment.
  • Avoid any further UV radiation until the sunburn is fully recovered.
  • Stay hydrated, as your body now needs more fluids.

Go to the doctor for sunburn?

In the case of heavy burning – i.e., over large areas, or if you have blisters or peeling skin – you should definitely consult a doctor or naturopath.

Sun cream: mineral or chemical?

Chemical sun creams change the penetrating UV radiation into other forms of energy such as heat. UVA filters help prevent premature skin ageing. UVB filters protect against sunburn. It takes around 30 minutes for the cream to be fully absorbed and exert its protective effect. Because these creams decompose, they may no longer be used after three to six months. But one advantage of chemical sun creams is that they can have a very high sun protection factor.

Mineral sun creams can generally be identified by a label on their packaging. They are especially appropriate for sensitive skin. They contain natural white colour pigments that deflect the sun's rays like a mirror. When applied, such creams create a white film that may remain in place for some time. In comparison to chemical creams, mineral light protection products are more quickly rendered ineffective by water and sweat, but they have the advantage of working immediately upon application.

Further information

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