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Best Home Remedies for Sunburn

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more


You might want to go out for a picnic or a quick swim to break the summer heat. These activities are all fun and games till you get sunburns. 

home remedies for sunburn

Skin damage due to excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays present in sunlight is called sunburn. You can also get sunburns from artificial sources of UV light, such as tanning beds. Sunburn is instead a radiation burn.1 You can notice a sunburn within 11 minutes of exposure. The skin will start turning red within two to six hours. Your skin will continue to develop sunburn for the next few days. Depending on the severity of your sunburn, it might take a few days or weeks for the skin to heal.  

If you have a mild sunburn, you can take care of it at home. However, a severe and blistered sunburn requires immediate medical attention. Getting a sunburn repeatedly can cause premature skin wrinkling and skin cancer in the long run.2 So, it’s best to take necessary precautions and avoid sunburns.  

Adequate exposure to sunlight is essential to get sufficient vitamin D which is important for bone health and immune system function. It is also important to prevent oneself from sunburn as prolonged exposure is implicated in the causation of skin cancer.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj, M.B.B.S., M.D.

What Causes Sunburn? 

Sunburns occur because of overexposure to UV radiation. You can develop sunburn when the UV exposure overpowers melanin’s ability to protect the skin. If you have light skin colour, you may develop a sunburn within 15 minutes of sun exposure. People with dusky skin tones tolerate sun exposure for hours without developing a sunburn.3  

Risk factors for developing a sunburn:  

  • Young children and infants 
  • Between 10 AM to 4 PM, as the sun’s rays are the strongest during this time  
  • Certain medicines, for example, doxycycline  
  • Specific health issues, for example, lupus, can make you more prone to sunburns.  
  • Exposure to sun lamps3  

Sunburns are categorised into three types depending on the severity of skin damage. Common types of sunburn include:  

  • First-degree sunburn: Sunburn of the outermost layer of the skin, which heals on its own with time1  
  • Second-degree sunburn: It is the sunburn that damages the inner layer of skin. A second-degree sunburn may cause blisters on the skin. It requires medical treatment and may take weeks to heal.1  

In rare circumstances, people may develop a third-degree sunburn. This type of damage can cause severe damage to all skin layers and destroy nerves. This requires emergency medical care and treatment’s    

Also Read: Home Remedies For Tanned Skin

Prevention is easy and straightforward. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure and every 90 minutes, after that. Water resistant sunscreen should be considered and frequently reapplied when spending time in the water. Sun protective clothing should be worn as an added barrier.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

Symptoms of Sunburn:  

Symptoms of sunburn vary depending on the severity of the burn.  

Symptoms of first-degree sunburn are:  

  • Fever 
  • Headache  
  • Redness of the skin 
  • Skin feels tight and hot to touch 
  • Skin blistering and swelling 
  • Skin becomes tender and painful 
  • Skin peeling  
  • Nausea1 

Symptoms of second-degree sunburn are:  

  • Pain at the site 
  • Skin appears wet 
  • Excessive redness of the skin 
  • Swelling and blistering over a large skin surface 
  • The appearance of a white spot at the site of the burn1 

Second-degree burns might be accompanied by heat illness. Symptoms of heat illness include: 

  • Dizziness  
  • Nausea  
  • Confusion 
  • Exhaustion  
  • Fever  
  • Fast breathing  
  • Muscle cramps 
  • Headache1  

Symptoms of a third-degree sunburn include:  

  • Heatstroke    
  • Dull or white coloured skin  
  • The burn site appears leathery    
  • Skin numbness    
  • All the signs of heat illness mentioned above1    

Also Read: Best Home Remedies for Clear Skin

Suggested Home Remedies for Sunburn:  

Below are some remedies that you can use to care for sunburned skin at home. Although these home remedies can be used for minor sunburns, you need to reach out to your healthcare professional and receive help if you have a severe form of sunburn. 

1. Stay Hydrated  

You need to drink more water to stay hydrated when dealing with a sunburn. Sunburns draw the water from the body to the skin surface, rendering the person dehydrated. Drinking excess water can help you prevent dehydration caused by sunburns.4  

2. Use Moisturiser  

You can apply a good moisturiser to the affected area if your skin is not too painful to touch. Using a moisturiser that contains aloe vera or soy can help you soothe the sunburned skin. Moisturiser will help boost the moisture content of the skin. Avoid using butter on the sunburned skin. If you use butter or petroleum jelly, or any other oil-based product on the affected skin, it might block the skin pores and lead to an infection.24 

3. Shower Often  

You can try taking cool baths or showers frequently. It will help you reduce the pain. Pat yourself dry after coming out of the shower but remember to leave some water on the skin. Applying a good moisturiser straight after the shower will help you retain the moisture in the skin.4 

4. Protect the Skin  

You need to protect the sunburned skin as it heals. Before venturing out, wear clothes that cover your skin. Wear clothes made of tightly woven fabrics. A tightly woven fabric does not allow light to come through when you hold it against a bright light. You can also try wearing loose cotton clothing.3,4  

5. Aloe Vera  

Aloe vera is an essential natural ingredient for dealing with many skin conditions. You can use aloe vera to relieve sunburns. It can also get rid of itching and help heal the blisters. It also provides a soothing sensation to the skin due to vitamin C and vitamin B. You can use aloe vera gel to aid in healing sunburned skin. Aloe vera gel can be rubbed directly on the affected area.5      

Check out – Health Aid Aloevera Gel

6. Black Tea  

Tea is an ingredient that most people have in their kitchens. It is a common home remedy used to relieve sunburns. You can apply cooled black tea directly to the sunburned skin. Certain compounds present in black tea help remove the heat from the sunburned skin. Black tea might help repair skin damage and prevent cancer.6 

7. Green Tea  

Green tea has good anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps to deal with adverse reactions on the skin, like sunburn after UV exposure. It can help reduce skin redness and skin damage. Green tea can be applied to the sunburned area to relieve skin damage.6  

Check out – Kapiva Get Slim Green Tea

8. Tea Tree Oil  

Tea tree oil is a popular ingredient found in many sunscreen products. Tea tree oil can help manage sunburn by improving the blood flow to the skin’s blood vessels, bringing essential nutrients to the damaged skin.6 To use tea tree oil, dilute it with some carrier oils like coconut, almond, or olive. Avoid using pure tea tree oil directly on the affected skin.    

Also Read: Sun Baths: Unveiling the Science-Backed Benefits and Risks

When to Seek Medical Help? 

If you notice any of the signs mentioned below, you should contact your healthcare provider.  

  • Rapid breathing and pulse 
  • Dizziness  
  • Chills and fever  
  • Nausea  
  • Skin rash  
  • Painful blisters  
  • Skin that appears pale and feels clammy and cool to touch 
  • No urine output and extreme thirst  
  • Sunken eyes3 


Sunburn is nothing but skin damage due to overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. Depending on the severity of sunburn, it can take a few days to a few weeks to heal completely. Getting sunburned frequently can increase your risk of skin cancer. Sunburns can be taken care of at home. You can use some at-home remedies to relieve sunburns and their symptoms. For example, ingredients like aloe vera, green tea, and tea tree oil can be used to relieve sunburns. If your sunburn is minor, which is a first-degree sunburn, it might heal on its own after some time. In case of severe sunburn, you need to contact your healthcare provider and receive timely treatment.    

Also Read: Best Home Remedies For Smelly Armpits

Frequently Asked Questions:  

What are the natural home remedies for sunburn?  

Herbal home remedies for relieving sunburn include aloe vera gel, green tea, black tea, and tea tree oil. Other home remedies for sunburn are moisturising, avoiding dehydration, taking cool showers, and protecting the sunburned area from further damage. Minor sunburns can heal at home on their own, but if your sunburn is severe, you need to seek medical help.4,6  

How to prevent sunburn?  

You can prevent yourself from getting sunburned if you: 
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply enough sunscreen to cover the exposed skin completely. Reapply the sunscreen every two hours.  
Wear a lip balm that offers sun protection. 
Wear sunglasses that provide UV protection. 
Stay indoors when the solar radiation is the strongest, between 10 AM to 4 PM. 
Wear a hat with a brim. 
Wear protective clothing in lighter shades.3 

Can I use aloe vera gel to treat sunburns?  

You can use aloe vera gel to relieve sunburns. Aloe vera gel can be used directly on sunburned skin. It helps soothe the skin and heal blisters. Aloe vera gel can also help in getting rid of the itching.5     

How to use tea tree oil for sunburns?  

Tea tree oil improves the flow of blood in the blood vessels of the skin, which helps bring nutrients to the skin and promotes the healing of the sunburned skin.6 To use tea tree oil, you can dilute it with some carrier oils like almond, olive, or coconut. Apply the diluted oil to the skin to heal the sunburned skin.  

Can sunburns be cured instantly?  

There is no instant cure for sunburns. The healing time of sunburns depends on the severity of the skin damage. It can take a few days to some weeks for sunburned skin to heal. First-degree sunburns, which are minor ones, can take a few days to weeks to heal completely. Whereas second-degree sunburns need several weeks to heal.1  


1. Cleveland Clinic. Sunburn: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 27]. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21858-sunburn 

2. Better Health Channel. Sunburn [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 27]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/sunburn 

3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Sunburn [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 27]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003227.htm 

4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to treat sunburn [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 27]. Available from: https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/injured-skin/burns/treat-sunburn 

5. January A ·, Qadir MI. Medicinal and cosmetological importance of Aloe vera. International Journal of Natural Therapy. 2009;2:21–6. Available from: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/233818204 

6. Korać RR, Khambholja KM. Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation. Pharmacognosy Reviews. 2011 Jul;5(10):164. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263051/ 

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